County councillors claiming out of date mileage rate would be ‘wrong’

C121167-1  Stock Chichester County Hall phot kate ENGSUS00120120509162241
C121167-1 Stock Chichester County Hall phot kate ENGSUS00120120509162241

County councillors claiming an out of date and increased mileage rate until 2015 would be ‘immoral and wrong’ according to one councillor.

Last October West Sussex county councillors agreed to increase their mileage rate from 53.8p to 59.25p, a rate which was amended down to 57.25p this year, and is based on running costs provided by the AA.

Current expenses rules state that ‘rates of travelling allowance will be set at the same rate as that calculated from data supplied by the AA, updated on April 1 each year in line with the AA rate at the time’.

An update to the AA running costs, dated April 2014, has seen a change in the criteria upon which councillors’ mileage rate is based on decrease from 57.25p to 49.60p.

However next Monday’s Governance Committee agenda appears to suggest the 57.25p mileage rate will be in place until April 1 2015.

James Walsh, leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “I agree that having opted for the AA rate, then WSCC should go with the latest rate, and I would suggest from June 1 2014.

“To do anything else would be ducking the question, and frankly immoral and wrong.”

Mike Glennon, group leader of UKIP, added: “UKIP believes that councillor expenses should be kept as low as reasonably possible. On that basis, the lower current AA rate should be applied from June 1 2014.”

Louise Goldsmith, Conservative leader at WSCC, said that all rates and allowances were set by an independent body not members, and councillors could not award themselves increases or decreases.

She added: “The issue will be brought to the attention of the relevant Governance Committee to consider the recently identified changes to one of the rates included in the council’s scheme of allowances.

“There is a meeting on Monday, however the agenda for this meeting has already been set. It may be possible to settle the matter there, but if not, I expect the matter will be considered at the June meeting. In the meantime it is a matter for individual members to decide whether to make claims or whether to use a lower rate, before the matter is considered by the committee. We will ensure that all members are aware of the new AA mileage rate.”