No pay rise for council chair role
DISPUTE OVER PROPOSED £2.5k INCREASE
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