WARRINGTON Borough Council will press the Government to release funding to give council officers – who work 'just as hard' as bankers and civil servants – a 'fair salary'.

Cllr Hitesh Patel, executive board member for personnel and communications, proposed a motion on the National Joint Council's (NJC) pay to councils at Monday's full council meeting.

The motion, which received unanimous cross-party support, will see the authority call on the Local Government Association to make 'urgent representations' to the Government to fund the NJC pay claim for 2018, submitted by Unison, GMB and Unite.

Council leader Cllr Terry O'Neill will also write to Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond to support the claim, while requesting additional funding to 'fund a decent pay rise'.

Cllr Patel (LAB – Great Sankey South) said: "Local government has some of the lowest, if not the lowest, paid workers in the public sector.

"I know from discussions with some employees, whose salaries are based on the local government's NJC salary scale, that they are really struggling to make ends meet.

"As councillors week in, week out, we engage with our committed and dedicated officers and we can see them working hard to try to find solutions to our residents' problems – despite the massive budget cuts this local authority has had to stomach.

"To date, I have yet to see any decent arguments as to why the Government is right to allow some civil servants, and bankers, to get millions of pounds in extra salary and yet local government employees, who work just as hard, are left struggling to get a fair salary.

"The positive impact our public sector officers make on people's lives is immense.

"I genuinely believe that local government staff are just as deserving as staff in other publicly funded sectors and I believe that central Government should release funds so public sector workers can be given a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

Council figures will also meet NJC union representatives in the area to 'convey support for the pay claim and the pay spine review'.

Earlier on Monday, Warrington North MP Helen Jones, who chairs the petitions select committee, led a debate on public sector pay after a parliamentary e-petition calling for the pay cap to be scrapped received more than 147,000 signatures.

The Labour politician dismissed the Government's argument that the pay cap was needed to reduce national debt.

She said: "We need to say that that is simply and absolutely wrong because during the time of the public sector pay cap, debt has increased, not diminished.

"So if the answer to debt is a public sector pay cap, someone is asking the wrong question.

“There is something else about the public sector that cannot be measured so easily – it has contributed more to human improvement and happiness than it is possible to say.”

Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid has also criticised the Government.

He said: “The Conservative Government’s approach has been to cherry-pick some groups in the public sector for a so-called pay rise, which would still result in their wages being cut in real terms.

“In areas where funding has been discussed, such as in the NHS, there remains a lack of clarity.

“This is yet another example of where the Government has been strong with words but weak on action.”

Prior to the motion being put forward at Monday’s full council meeting, Grappenhall resident Antony Barker questioned council leader Cllr Terry O’Neill over the borough’s controversial development plans.

He said: “Can the councillor confirm that no revised plan will be produced until an agreed, realistic and properly consulted on strategic economic plan and local industrial strategy has been produced, or confirm that the revised development plan will therefore limit itself to the lower objectively assessed housing need as calculated under the Government’s new formula, all of which could be built on brownfield sites as no higher economic growth based target can be justified?

“And explain what steps are being taken to put the people before profit and create an innovative, affordable, sustainable and integrated education, transport, industrial and housing strategy that benefits the existing population first and foremost – and will provide affordable homes, green spaces and leisure that will ensure that, in the first instance, we at least retain and provide for local talent rather than be swayed by unaffordable, unachievable and uncontrolled ambitions of unaccountable others?”

Cllr O’Neill (LAB – Burtonwood and Winwick) confirmed the authority will be 'complying' with the Government’s industrial strategy.

He also said he has welcomed some of the recent announcements in Parliament but highlighted fears by saying the 'devil is always in the detail'.

Also in the meeting, Cllr Judith Guthrie, executive board member for environment and public protection, asked Mayor Cllr Les Morgan if those in the room could take part in 'a round of air quality stand up bingo' but the request was refused as 'it was not on the agenda'.