Daventry’s Conservative councillors reject motion to commend their own leader over unitary payments

Daventry Distirct Council leader Chris Millar left the room while the debate on whether to commend him took place
Daventry Distirct Council leader Chris Millar left the room while the debate on whether to commend him took place

Conservative councillors in Daventry have voted down a motion that would have commended their own leader over his decision not to accept extra payment for work he did.

Daventry District Council leader Chris Millar had been entitled to a £12,000 sum for work he carried out on preparations for the council to merge with Northampton Borough and South Northamptonshire in a new West Northamptonshire unitary authority.

An independent remuneration panel had recommended that Councillor Millar be paid the sum for his work on the West Northants steering group. It was £300 more than the extra allowance of £11,300 that Councillor Millar received for the entire year up to March 2018 for being leader of the council.

Fellow steering group members and Daventry councillors Jo Gilford and Alan Chantler entitled to £6,000, and it is not known whether they drew down the sum.

The recommendations prompted fury from councillors on the steering group from the other councils involved. Deputy leader of Northampton Borough Council Phil Larratt said he ‘did not expect a penny’ for his work.

But in March, the Local Democracy Reporting Service found that Councillor Millar had declined to accept the payment as he believed it was part of his role as leader.

At the latest full council meeting, opposition members from the Labour party put forward a motion for the Conservative leader to be commended for his decision not to accept the sum.

Speaking on Wednesday (May 15), Labour councillor Ken Ritchie said: “The example that has been set here by Councillor Millar will not be followed by everyone, but has shown that they should at least think about it. That should be appreciated.”

But in a bizarre episode of local government, the Conservatives rejected the motion to commend their own leader.

Councillor Liz Griffin said: “Councillor Millar has sent an email to all members with his feelings on this matter. He very much believes in the independence of the remuneration panel, and that all councillors are free to take their own allowance without fear or favour or comment of any kind, and he would prefer it to remain that way. He feels the extra work, that was significant, came under his role as leader and he was happy to do it.”

The report from the remuneration panel at the time outlined that all three councillors should be entitled to the Special Responsibility Allowances as the work was ‘unprecedented and required a great deal of work in the background’.