Northampton councillor walks out of meeting in protest after pay panel row

Councillor Emma Roberts
Councillor Emma Roberts

A Northampton councillor says her views on having equal men and women on a remuneration panel for the new unitary council have been ignored.

The committee would decide how much councillors get paid on the West Northamptonshire unitary that will replace current councils in Northampton, Daventry and south Northamptonshire next year.

But choosing its members has sparked an equality row that caused Councillor Emma Roberts (Lab, Delapre & Briar Hill) to walk out on a selection meeting on Monday night.

Commenting on the fact all the candidates are anonymised until formally selected she said: "Anonymity of those available for selection from the current panels for the four authorities seemed strange to me. How can I ensure gender and equality balance if I have no details
of those being selected?

“Any panel should have a balance which reflects the people we represent. I did not feel we were making any progress in that regard. The current Conservative administrations are extremely unbalanced. This is not good enough. We should not be repeating this on any council panels.

"“I would also like community and trade union positions on the panel.

"Unfortunately I was not prepared to agree to something I could not support. I felt excluded from the decision making. I had no other option than to leave the meeting this evening."

A decision needs to be made on the make-up of the panel this week, but Councillor Roberts was frustrated that interviewing all candidates thoroughly would take three months and the others were not willing to wait.

All candidates currently sit on similar committees on their respective councils.

Representatives of the meeting have been contacted for comment.