‘It’s a demanding role’

COUNTY councillors in Notts are the highest paid in England, it has been revealed.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 11th September 2012, 11:07 am

Figures released by the Tax Payers’ Alliance show Notts County Council pays its members £12,906 a year - higher than any other county council nationally.

The research shows neighbouring councillors in Leicestershire receive £10,152 a year, councillors in Derbyshire receive £9,948 and those in Lincolnshire receive £8,184.

But county councillor for Worksop North East and Carlton Alan Rhodes believes constituents are getting value for money.

He said: “We have a big responsibility. We are a big authority making big decisions, our budgets are big and it is a big commitment. It’s a demanding role and it’s quite right the remuneration that councillors get reflects the role we do.”

Councillors’ basic allowances are determined by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) every four years.

A review can also be carried out if there is a significant change to governence arrangements or if the council calls for a review voluntarily.

“What we don’t want is for councils to be made up of the retired or the wealthy,” he added.

Over the past two years, the authority has announced multi-million pound cuts to voluntary sector grants, increase charges for vital care services, switching off of street lights and hundreds of job losses at county hall.

In June, however, council leaders announced they made budget savings of £34m. Deputy leader Martin Suthers said members’ expenses have remained frozen for the past three years.

“The amount paid in members allowances is reviewed by an independent panel which recommends sums to the council based on a variety of factors, including local circumstances and members’ workloads,” he said.

“Any changes are in line with pay awards for employees agreed nationally. Since the panel was set up in 2000, the council has always accepted their recommendations.”

“This has included a freeze in the basic allowance since April 2009 which, taking inflation into account, is a 10 per cent reduction in real terms.”

“Notts is the only county council in the country to operate a committee system, which places greater demands on all members to attend more meetings and gives them a bigger influence on decision making.”

“Councillors are responsible for making critical decisions affecting the day-to-day lives of 780,000 Notts residents and directing policy for a complex mix of services with budgets of almost £500m.”

“And our responsibilities don’t stop at the council chamber – we spend many more hours with our constituents, listening to their concerns and working on their behalf.”

The authority, the 11th largest in the country, is ranked 53rd out of all 434 councils nationally.

County councillors receive almost three times that of some district councillors around the East Midlands.

Councillors in Bassetlaw receive £4,628 per year.

County councillor for Retford West Wendy Quigley said she would be willing to take a cut: “We expect the general public to go out on a rainy day to put a cross by our names. My phone is always on. People can always reach me.”

“If the IRP say we should take a drop then yes, of course we would take a drop,” she added.