No pay rise for coun­cil chair role

DIS­PUTE OVER PRO­POSED £2.5k IN­CREASE

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

PLANS to award a coun­cil chair an ex­tra £2,500 a year have been scrapped. Last month, Gwynedd coun­cil’s demo­cratic ser­vices com­mit­tee rec­om­mended that the coun­cil chair should see their pay up­graded to “band one” sta­tus to re­flect the num­ber of hours they put in to the cer­e­mo­nial role.

But, dur­ing last week’s full coun­cil meet­ing in Caernar­fon, Gwynedd’s 75 coun­cil­lors turned down the rec­om­men­da­tion, which was de­scribed as “un­jus­ti­fi­able in the present eco­nomic cli­mate.”

Plaid cab­i­net mem­ber Cllr Nia Jef­freys said: “I do be­lieve in pay­ing coun­cil­lors a fair wage, es­pe­cially if we want to at­tract peo­ple from less priv­i­leged back­grounds.

“But I’m afraid that, in the cur­rent cli­mate, rais­ing the chair’s wage is a step too far for me per­son­ally.

“As an amend­ment, I rec­om­mend we keep it at band two.”

Llais Gwynedd mem­ber Cllr Al­wyn Gruffydd echoed her sen­ti­ments.

“I agree we should re­strict the chair’s wages to level two, I don’t think we can jus­tify that in the cli­mate we find our­selves in and am very happy to sup­port her amend­ment.”

At present, the coun­cil chair role is af­forded “band two” sta­tus, mean­ing the­p­ost holder will re­ceive £21,800 in 2018/19.

But, had Gwynedd’s full coun­cil ac­cepted the com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion, pay for the post would have risen to £24,300.

How­ever, not all mem­bers were in agree­ment with Cllr Jef­freys’ amend­ment.

“As a for­mer coun­cil chair, I know the amount of work that goes into the role,” said Cllr Anne Lloyd Jones.

“I’d like to con­grat­u­late Nia for her new cab­i­net po­si­tion, which has a salary of £29,300, while every com­mit­tee chair re­ceives £22,300.

“Yet the chair is ex­pected to go out to sev­eral func­tions a week for £21,000.

“That’s why, as a com­mit­tee, we rec­om­mended the change.”

Mem­bers also rub­ber-stamped the In­de­pen­dent Re­mu­ner­a­tion Panel for Wales’ rec­om­men­da­tion that all mem­bers should re­ceive a £200 payrise.

They had been told that it was not pos­si­ble to re­ject the panel’s find­ings.

As a re­sult, all 75 coun­cil­lors will re­ceive a ba­sic salary of £13,600.

Cllr Sion Jones had sought clar­i­fi­ca­tion af­ter rais­ing con­cerns that mem­bers should re­ceive a pay rise at all.

“I was go­ing to rec­om­mend that we refuse the £200 pay rise,” he said. “I’d do this for free, as coun­cil­lors we’re not here to make money are we?

“Coun­cil staff aren’t get­ting a big rise, if at all, and I don’t think its ap­pro­pri­ate that we should re­ceive a pay rise at all.”

But Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Dil­wyn Wil­liams, re­sponded: “If you add up the hours that elected mem­bers put in to their roles, you’ll find they re­ceive less than the min­i­mum wage.

“Coun­cil staff are be­ing awarded a 2% min­i­mum rise this year, with those on the low­est wages see­ing in­creases of up to 9%. You, as mem­bers, are be­ing of­fered a rise of ap­prox­i­mately 1.4% in com­par­i­son.”

Coun­cil leader, Dyfrig Sien­cyn, added: “There is in­creas­ing pres­sure on us mem­bers to slash our salaries, but our job is to do the dirty work of the West­min­ster and Cardiff gov­ern­ments. If we want to start cut­ting elected mem­bers’ salaries, why not start in West­min­ster? Its those that started all these cuts.”

Nia Jef­freys op­posed the in­crease

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