Council leaders are considering legal action over the removal of their right to local government pensions.
At a meeting of the LGA’s executive on Thursday, Mehboob Khan (Lab), left, leader of Kirklees MBC, said the LGA should approach the pensions ombudsman to see whether there were any relevant test cases.
“It could be that one of us in this room brings forward test cases about the unfair attack on our pensions – either about the effects on us individually or the sector as a whole”, he said.
However, Gary Porter (Con), leader of the LGA’s Conservative group, said any legal challenge should be a last resort.
“I agree with the sentiment, but in terms of the line of attack we take on this area I’d suggest we don’t go to the ombudsman or the lawyers until there are no more options”, he said.
“I’m getting the strong sense that the government didn’t intend to start a row [with councillors]. We’ve got more chance of getting a better consultation document if we handle it the way we have been doing rather than [take] an aggressive approach.”
Also at the meeting, councillors criticised former local government minister Grant Shapps and current minister Brandon Lewis over a row last month about members’ pay.
The Conservative MPs said a select committee report calling for councillors to be compensated for loss of earnings was “a cynical and sleazy move”. Claiming the cross-party committee’s report had come from “Labour politicians” and pointing to Labour Party rules under which a share of its councillors’ allowances are transferred to the party’s own funds, Mr Shapps said Labour was trying to increase the party’s budget.
But at the LGA meeting, Sevenoaks DC leader Peter Fleming (Con) said: “It’s a shame that people down the road decided that to further their own message it was best to give us a kicking.”
LGA chair Merrick Cockell (Con) said: “I hope we may encourage parliamentarians to rise to a higher level of debate about the important matters, because I think we all agree that the alternative is unacceptable.”