The basic salary for councillors in Wrexham is set to increase by £200 from this month, with the final report on the increase ‘noted’ after progressing through a Full Council vote.
In March Wrexham.com reported that the Independent Renumeration Panel for Wales (IRPW) had put forward the increase for all councillors across Wales as part of its annual report.
How much councillors get paid is not directly set by local authorities, including Wrexham Council – with the IRPW set up in 2008 the IRPW to take such pay related decisions away from elected members.
This will take the basic salary from £13,400 to £13,600 from April.
Also included in the report was the removal of the two-tier payment system for senior councillors and committee chairpersons. Wrexham Council has previously paid at the higher of the two levels – something which will continue under the IRPW’s decision to remove the lower of the pay scales.
Councillors can choose to forgo their pay rise, with it previously being explained that individuals can write to the head of finance explaining why they do not wish to receive it.
Previously it has been alluded to that some councillors choose to donate their pay rise or a chunk or their salary to charity.
Last week councillors were asked to ‘note’ the recommendations of the IRPW to increase the basic salary.
Speaking at last week’s full council meeting, Leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Pritchard said: “In the council’s response to the constitution of the draft annual report the panel was asked to explain the rationale in adopting for the higher of two levels. This was followed up at recent meeting of the democratic services committee.
“The panel has responded that in removing the two-tier flexibility, opts to remove the lower-tier as to the best of their knowledge.
“Almost all councils were paying senior salaries at the higher level. Setting salaries at a lower level and picking a mid point level would mean elected members receiving a senior salary would would be facing a pay cut mid way through their administration term, assuming they retain their current post and positions within the executive board.
“The panel didn’t think this would be fair course of action with regards to elected members”
Previously debates on councillor pay has been described as a ‘bloodbath’. However last week’s meeting saw a short and sweet debate, with only Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Dana Davies speaking to explain why she and fellow councillors would not be noting the report.
We have been told Councillors basically can't not note this report, so if all Cllrs were subject to an unlikely skiing accident in the next few minutes which temporarily restricted arm movements… they would still have to raise their hands to note the report? 🧐
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) March 28, 2018
Cllr Davies said: “The Labour Group believe that in noting the report we are agreeing with the determinations made by the IRPW in their annual report. We do not and our views are very much alligned to those of the democratic services committee and their recommendations when they met in November 2018.
“They expressed disappointment with the then draft annual report as the committee felt it did not reflect the wider economic picture for public services.
“Also that the IRPW be requested to provide the reasoning behind the higher levels of pay for executive board members and chairs in removing the lower payment system. Also that members give serious consideration to forgoing the pay rise in order to show solidarity with the communities they represent.
“3.17 of the annual report shows they wouldn’t allow recommendation three of the democratic services committee as it would be deemed to be exerting pressure on councillors.
“The Labour Group will be voting against noting the report and ask that the lead member respectfully accepts our decision. Therefore I don’t think there’s a need for a lecture.”
Clr Davies says Labour will be voting against noting the report adds 'no need for a lecture' from Clr Pritchard, who looks over his glasses back and does not rise to the point. Looks like Plaid group + Clr Mike Davies also voted against noting report.
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) March 28, 2018
The pay rise / report was ‘noted’ by 31 councillors, with 14 not supporting it.
It still remains unclear what would happen if the report had a majority of councillors voting against noting it.
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