Conservative mayoral candidate Andrew Boff’s proposal for an unpaid mayor and cabinet of Hackney has met with criticism from other political parties.
Mr Boff promises not to accept a salary if elected as mayor, and will appoint cabinet members only if they refuse the extra allowance paid to the most senior councillors.
His opponents contend that this would turn back the clock in council politics.
Adrian Gee-Turner, the Liberal Democrat candidate for mayor, told the Citizen: “’Zero-cost mayor’ means that only people with a private income could afford to be mayor.
“That used to be the case hundreds of years ago, when only gentlemen of wealth could stand.”
The current mayor of Hackney, Labour’s Jules Pipe, currently receives just under £76,000 per year. Cabinet members receive a special responsibility allowance of almost £33,000.
Mr Pipe said, “Anyone suggesting scrapping allowances must either believe Hackney Council is now too good to need the full time oversight and scrutiny of an elected mayor and councillors, or think that it’s acceptable to limit candidates for those roles to the retired or independently wealthy.
“Allowances are in place to enable residents from any walk of life, whatever the stage of their career or family circumstances, to represent their community and stand for public office.”
All councillors are paid a basic allowance of £9,943, which cabinet members would be free to continue receiving under Mr Boff.
Mischa Borris, the Green Party’s candidate, said, “Being the executive mayor of Hackney should be a full time job and the same goes for cabinet members.
“If you want competent people who can give the role the attention it needs, including taking the time to meet with officers and others in the daytime, you need to pay them to live.”
Mr Boff, however, questions the current pay scale and the need for councillors to meet during normal working hours.
He said, “The more you pay for politicians the more distant you allow that political class to become from ordinary people.
“Where is the transparency if cabinet meetings are all in the day when residents earning the money to keep members in a job are unable to attend?
“I want a bus driver to be able to serve in the cabinet, and to be able to have the time to do so.”
Hackney’s mayoral election coincides with the general election on Thursday 6 May.