A LEADING councillor says she is having to look for another job to supplement her income.

Green councillor and environment co-chief Amy Heley hit back at the Tories after they claimed her party shared top jobs on Brighton and Hove City Council to give its members a pay rise.

Chairmen and chairwomen of committees which oversee decisions on the council are given special allowances for their roles.

The Green group is sharing most of these key jobs – and the £9,752 allowance – between two people after their takeover of the council in July.

Tories accuse the Greens of “breaking precedent” to give more of their members a pay rise and question whether it will affect the effectiveness of the role.

Amy Heley, who has co-chaired the environment, transport and sustainability committee since July, said: “Job-sharing does not increase our pay because joint chairs share the chair’s allowance.

“I’m personally doing this role full time at the moment, which means I’m losing out financially.

“So I’m now on about £17,000 for more than full-time hours.

“I’m 24 years old and half my income goes on rent.

“I love being a councillor and I’m proud to represent my area, but I also have to spend a lot of time looking for another job and that takes time away from council work.

“People in local politics don’t talk about elected members’ allowances enough.

“Thanks to austerity, it often feels inappropriate to say that councillors should be paid more when services are too stretched to function. But how can we diversify politics if it doesn’t pay the bills?”

The Argus:

The Tories have written to council chief executive Geoff Raw to get an examination on the democratic, financial and environmental implications of the joint chairing role.

They claim it will reduce accountability, increase officer costs, produce more paperwork and was “motived by sharing allowances rather than doing what is best for the city”.

Cllr Heley said: “I’m really pleased that the Green administration is trialling job-sharing and prioritising equalities.

“There is such a long way to go to ensure that elected representatives reflect the people we represent and money is a massive factor in that.

“Oh also I don’t get a pension.”

The Greens defended the decision, arguing that it makes the council more accessible for women.

A spokeswoman for the group of Green councillors said: “Local councillors across the country are still too often not representative of the diverse communities they serve.

“The women’s equality organisation the Fawcett Society recommends job-shares as a way of making councils more accessible for women. Commemorating the 100 years of some women winning the right to vote in 2018, Green councillors pushed to have these findings enacted.”

In 2017, the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women’s rights and gender equality, published a pamphlet making the case for a change to the law to allow two people to share the job of an MP.

It believes this change would help get more parents with children, carers, and more disabled people, into Parliament.

The Green spokeswoman added: “In line with our commitment to make the role of a councillor fit alongside other responsibilities, a number of Green councillors decided to share roles, on taking control of the council last week.

“These are just some of the many things we need to do to make sure that becoming a local councillor is something that anyone can consider.

“Greens remain committed to ensuring that our council is accessible to people from all communities.”