Wrexham Council is set to effectively agree to an independent panel’s proposals to increase the amount councillor’s are paid.
It comes after members of the council’s democratic services committee came out in favour of an increase amid fears poor pay could limit the candidate pool of those wanting to take on the role.
In previous years there has been opposition to suggestions made by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRPW) – the organisation in charge of making recommendations to councillor pay – with claims in the past that it is out of touch.
This year the panel has proposed that the basic salary for councillors is increased by £350 per annum. This would cost the council an additional £18,200 for 2020/21.
Details of the proposed changes can be found below.
In a contrast to previous meetings of the democratic services committee, last month councillors appeared in favour of a rise although around the £270 mark rather than the proposed £350. In the past there has been clear pushback against any rises at all.
A ‘Ever thought about being a Welsh councillor?’ video circulated by the IRPW to councillors prior to the meeting appeared to have made some councillors reconsider whether or not the pay should increase.
Councillor Derek Wright, who represents the Cefn ward, said he had completely changed his mind after seeing the video.
There were also concerns that the levels of pay were causing a barrier for younger people.
New Broughton councillor Alan Edwards spoke of the large amount of work councillors do, and said wanted to see a higher rise in pay as he feared the council was ‘losing’ possible candidates.
Referring to a large number of ‘middle aged men’ on the council he warned that a pay rise was needed to enable younger people to ‘come through’. (Cllr Edwards in the Independent group, Wrexham Council’s biggest political group, which is made up 18 men).
Although pay increases are annual for the council, a number of councillors choose not to take the pay rise at all or donate it to charitable causes.
Speaking at the meeting councillor Debbie Wallice from Borras said she had concerns based around residents complaining about pay rises, and told the committee she would not be taking the pay rise due to ‘personal feelings’ and ‘budget cuts’.
In a letter due to be signed off tomorrow by leader of the council, Cllr Mark Pritchard, it is stated that the committee feel an increase of “2 per cent in line with local government pay rises would be more reasonable than the proposed 2.5 per cent.”
It adds: “At the meeting, members recognised that in order to encourage those considering standing for election in the future, the remuneration for members needs to be sufficient to attract a diverse range of candidates.
“The general feedback from elected Members has included recognition that sufficient remuneration is required for the role and that they should receive fair pay for the demanding role that they undertake.”
The final determination (importantly it is *not* a recommendation) from the IRPW will likely go before council in the new year.
You can view the report and letter in full on the Wrexham Council website, here.
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