THE local politician expected to lead a new single council for the whole of Somerset has been accused of wanting to be paid the same as an MP.

Cllr David Fothergill, currently leader of Somerset County Council, is 'demanding' an £80,000 pay packet, according to Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.

Mr Liddell-Grainger made the claim in an intervention in the House of Commons shortly after the Minister who rubber-stamped plans to axe the four district councils and the county to replace them with a huge council covering the hole of Somerset by April 2023.

Robert Jenrick was sacked at Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's reshuffle this week.

Mr Liddell-Grainger told the House of Commons: “Britain’s greatest king, King Alfred, is still spinning in his grave from the appalling abuse of democracy made when the unitary announcement came.

Somerset County Gazette:

Ian Liddell-Grainger MP.

"It has been an absolute bombshell in Somerset.

"But now the senior civil servant Paul Rowsell has agreed that Somerset will only get about 80 councillors, and part of the reason for that is because the leader of the county council wishes to be paid at least the same as a Member of Parliament and he wants all the new councillors to receive between £55,000 and £60,000 a year."

Mr Liddell-Grainger wants a full debate on the issue at Westminster.

In response to his claims, the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said: "I am a great advocate of economy within the public service, ensuring that expenses paid to councillors are reasonable and proportionate.

"Essentially it is a voluntary job where people should not be out of pocket rather than a professional career where people might expect the sort of salaries they might get if employed by the state."

A spokesperson for Somerset County Council said: “The claims made by Ian Liddell-Grainger are completely untrue. The MP knows this is false and all anyone interested has to do is read the One Somerset business case which promotes fewer councillors, less costs, and savings for the public.

“The idea that councillors will get salaries is laughable, as Jacob Rees-Mogg confirms. And the suggestions regarding the level of these payments is equally absurd, as Mr Liddell-Grainger well knows.

“County councillors currently get allowances of around £11,000 per year. District councillors around £3,000 per year. No one in their right mind would believe this would leap up to £50,000 or £60,000.”