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Proposals to increase councillor pay described as “inappropriate in the current climate of financial austerity”

Wrexham Council is set to “express disappointment” over an independent panel’s proposals to increase the annual councillor salary by more than £260 and by £800 for senior members.

A proposed response set to be signed off tomorrow by Cllr Mark Pritchard, leader of Wrexham Council and lead member for finance, performance, health & safety and governance, states that such a pay rise would be “inappropriate in the current climate of financial austerity and on-going cuts to public services.”

The letter has been written in response to proposals put forward by the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) to increase councillor pay as part of its draft annual report.

The recommendations in the panel’s report would see eight members of the executive board senior salary receive over £30,000 a year in a 2.7% increase – with a similar increase also proposed for the leader and deputy leader of Wrexham Council.

Senior salaries and the councillors who would receive the proposed increase are detailed below:

Councillor Mark Pritchard (Council Leader): £48,300 -> £49,100
Councillor Hugh Jones (Deputy Leader): £33,800 -> £34,600
Councillor Andrew Atkinson: £29,300 -> £30,100
Councillor William Baldwin: £29,300 -> £30,100
Councillor David A Bithell: £29,300 -> £30,100
Councillor Terry Evans: £29,300 -> £30,100
Councillor D J Griffiths: £29,300 -> £30,100
Councillor David Kelly: £29,300 -> £30,100
Councillor Joan Lowe: £29,300 -> £30,100
Councillor Phil Wynn: £29,300 -> £30,100

Committee Chairs – who oversee the council’s scrutiny committees – will see pay go from £22,300 to £22,568, with the leader of the opposition, Cllr Dana Davies going from £22,300 to £22,568.

The Mayor also sees an increase from £21,800 to £22,568 and the Deputy Mayor £16,300 to £17,568

Every other ‘normal’ councillor will be seeing a pay rise with their basic salary going up by £268 from £13,600 to £13,868 a +1.97% increase.

The pay rate of councillors is not directly set by Wrexham Council, instead it is mainly taken out of their hands and dealt with via the IRPW – which was set up in 2008 to take such decisions from elected members.

However the panel’s proposals have been met with opposition from the majority of councillors, with members of the democratic services committee branding them “wrong” and “disappointing”.

A response set to be submitted to the panel on behalf of the local authority conveys the committees outcomes, stating: “The Committee expresses disappointment that the IRPW intended to increase the basic and senior salaries for Elected Members for the financial year commencing April 2019, despite continued representations that this was inappropriate in the current climate of financial austerity and on-going cuts to public services.”

The letter also records comments from councillors on the draft Annual Report, “It is noted that the IRPW calculates the basic salary on an assumption that the basic activity required for an elected member (i.e. without the additional work required for a senior salary) is equivalent to three days’ work.

“It is recognised that Elected Members on the basic salary commonly spend well in excess of the notional three days basic salary in carrying out their roles.

Previously the IRPW have been hammered locally for not listening to such letters, although the letter is signed off: “I trust that our comments will be considered by the Panel.”

 

 



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