Liberal Democrat County Councillors in Surrey have heavily criticised the Conservative-administration at County Hall after Conservative Councillors awarded themselves thousands of pounds of extra allowances in a vote at Council yesterday. The vote means that 4 new Deputy Cabinet positions will be created, at a cost of £40K a year, as well as extra allowances for committee vice-chairs.
Liberal Democrat County Councillors opposed these increases and voted against them at County Hall.
Cllr Chris Botten, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Surrey County Council, said:
“At a time when residents are looking to Surrey County Council to increase its cost effectiveness, and at a time when severe cuts in services are proposed, the Conservatives should not be looking to award themselves a pay rise. Many of our residents have had no real increase in their income for ten years and they will be appalled to see these increases voted through. The overall cost of allowances for members should be capped for three years and any adjustments made by moving money within the existing budget.”
Cllr Fiona White, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats at Surrey County Council, added:
“I told the Leader of the Council yesterday how I disappointed I was with his proposals to pay thousands of pounds of additional allowances to Conservative Councillors, whilst at the same time proposing huge cuts to essential services. The County Council is telling residents that difficult decisions need to be made on spending but at the same time is able to find extra money to keep backbench Conservative councillors happy. I am calling for the Conservative-administration to reverse this decision and instead put this money into front line services.”
A webcast of the meeting can be found here (with the Item on allowances starting at 1:39:00):
A copy of the Leader’s response to the Independent Remuneration Panel report can be found here:
The Council papers for this item can be found here (Item 15):
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Liberal Democrat county councillors have called for a scrutiny investigation following the disclosure that Surrey County Council have paid an undisclosed sum to Virgin Care, following legal proceedings over the awarding of a health contract.
Virgin Care sued the County Council, alongside six Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Surrey, citing “serious flaws” in the way the procurement of a contract to provide children’s and young people’s community health care services was conducted. One CCG inadvertently disclosed that its liability in the case was £328,000 but references to this amount have now been removed from its public finance report.
Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council, said today:
“It appears likely that the County Council have paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds to Virgin Care but Surrey residents will never the know how much public money was used to settle this case. This is money that could have been used to fund vital public services, which are already being cut by the Conservative-administration at County Hall, rather than settle expensive legal disputes.
“I am therefore calling for a scrutiny investigation into what the grounds for the dispute were, how the County Council interacted with the CCGs with regard to the procurement and what went wrong, and for more transparency on the amount of public money that the County Council has spent with regard to this case”.
MRS HAZEL WATSON (DORKING HILLS) TO ASK:
According to the Independent on Wednesday 29 November: “Virgin Care sued the NHS last year after it lost out on an £82m contract to provide children’s health services across Surrey, citing concerns over “serious flaws” in the way the contract was awarded. The company filed proceedings at the UK High Court naming the six local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Surrey, as well as Surrey County Council and NHS England.” What were the grounds of the legal dispute between Virgin Care and Surrey County Council regarding the contract for children’s health services and how much has been or will be paid by the County Council to resolve this matter?
Reply (HELYN CLACK, CABINET MEMBER FOR HEALTH)
Virgin Care began legal proceedings against a number of parties including Surrey County Council alleging irregularities in the procurement of the contract to provide children’s and young people community health care services throughout Surrey. The proceedings have now been settled on terms that are confidential to the parties. Disclosure of those terms by any of the parties could lead to enforcement action against that party. I am therefore not able to provide the information that the Councillor has asked for.