Deputy council leader in pay row steps down
PUBLISHED: 14:21 14 April 2015 | UPDATED: 14:21 14 April 2015
Gareth Bacon says he never intended to hold so many roles at once
Bexley Council’s deputy leader is stepping down from his position.
Gareth Bacon is renouncing his roles as deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and corporate services to concentrate on his position as chairman of the London Fire Authority.
He will step down at the council’s annual meeting on May 20, although he will remain a backbench councillor.
Cllr Bacon was criticised by the council’s Labour group for holding multiple roles – including membership of the London Assembly - alongside each other, but said it had always been his intention to step down from his council responsibilities when he took on the fire authority role.
He made the announcement at a meeting of the council’s resources scrutiny committee yesterday evening.
“It became likely that I would be offered the position as chairman of the fire authority in about late January – I didn’t become chairman until March 27,” he said.
“That gave me time to think about whether I would continue to do everything, and my plan was that I would step down at the end of the year – council appointments are made on an annual basis and I wanted to finish the year - to devote more time to my fire authority job.
“But there were people I needed to talk to about this, including my wife – which was tricky as she was out of the country – and the leader of the council.
“It is not something I have been trying to keep secret, but I didn’t tell the Evening Standard as I didn’t want the group to find out what I was going to do by reading the Evening Standard.”
He is referring to an article in the Evening Standard in February which dubbed him “London’s highest-paid councillor” and said he was taking home £108,174 a year from his public roles. He declined to comment on the article.
Cllr Bacon will now receive £26,000 for his role as chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, £53,439 for sitting on the London Assembly, and £9,418 for being a councillor. He would also have received £17,595 for the roles of deputy leader and cabinet member.
Labour group leader Alan Deadman said: “I am relieved to see that Tory Cllr Bacon has finally seen sense by taking into consideration the concerns that I have raised about him juggling these four local government positions.
“It really wasn’t right that he was lining his pocket with £108,174 of taxpayers’ money while honest decent people in Bexley are struggling to make ends meet.
“I also had grave concerns as the cabinet member for finance plays a big role in decisions on which public services to cut and protect.’’