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Mega rise planned in councillors' allowances

(November 04, 2009)
WILTSHIRE councillors are  meeting on Tuesday at County Hall and the first subject on their agenda will be their own remuneration.
If the proposals set out in an independent review are accepted by the council the pay of all councillors will shoot up by more than 23 per cent at a time when many have been laid off, had hours cut or been put on a pay freeze.
The basic allowance of the ordinary 'backbench' councillor would rise from less than 10,000 pounds to over 12,200 pounds if the plans are agreed.
Those serving in the cabinet would see their salary rise to a total of more than 27,000 and that is without additional subsistence and travel allowances and free IT at home.
Those who have drawn up the new scales suggest that the going rate for the job(full time) is 37,000 pounds less a percentage for public service.
In the past that has been a 50 per cent reduction as it is public service  giving councillors, who are very part time, less than 10k.
The new plan seeks to bring this public service discount down to just 33 per cent to bring us into line with other local authorities.
'I doubt very much if more than a handful of those who sit on the council could command a salary of 37k full time,' said former county member Steve Dancey.
'Many of them have worked in feather bedded government jobs and would have a bit of a shock if they had to work in private industry.
'It is true that today's unitary councillors are having to work harder than councillors in the past but now is not the time for an increase - especially for cabinet members.'
The cost of funding the proposed increases  in just basic allowance would be 225,000 pounds - money that could be put to much better use on front line services.
If councillors don't like the remuneration then stand aside for those who would be prepared to do the job for less.
It isn't as if the council is particularly renowned for making good decisions eg Icelandic banks, the real time passenger information system on buses or Warminster Market Place come to that - or even dreaming up a sensible name for the council (WC!!!) - Wiltshire is a county and should advertise that fact.

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