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Row Over Councillors' 12 Per Cent Pay Rise

Coventry councillors are being recommended to award themselves a pay rise that could total up to £80,000 a year.

The 12 per cent increase is being proposed because of the changes in the structure of the council.

Instead of numerous committees, a cabinet of Labour councillors has now been appointed, with each of the ten members taking on a particular area of responsibility.

Following the switch, external consultants Riley Advertising were appointed to suggest what levels of allowances councillors should receive.

They concluded that it was difficult to fix a level, but suggested paying the Leader of the council half of the salary of the Strategic Directors, who sit at the apex of the officers’ structure.

This would have meant that the current leader, Cllr Nick Nolan, would have seen his salary spiral from £23,828 (including the basic councillor’s allowance of £9.748) to £37,500.

The rationale for this is that the time spent doing the leader’s jobs makes it impossible for them to get another job.

And the total wage bill for the councillors, including employer’s national insurance contribution, would rise to £798,000.

Another suggestion was that part of the pay be withheld until the councillor undergoes a formal review to check that their performance has been adequate.

City secretary John Payne said:

“After careful consideration of the consultants’ report, it is considered that, in spite of the new roles and responsibilities of members under the new political management arrangements, it would be difficult to justify some of the allowances proposed in that report.”

A new formula has been set up, with all members of the council getting a basic allowance of £10,000.

In addition, it is suggested that the leader receives £18,000, the deputy leader £13,000, and other cabinet members £8,000. Chairs of committees used to receive £3,000.

Those who chair the three new scrutiny boards are in line for £5,000, while their deputies will get £2,000,

The planning committee chair will get £3,000 and health and safety and licensing chair will get £2,000. The deputies in all these jobs will get half that sum.

Mr Payne said that the attendance allowance councillors received for turning up to meetings should be scrapped.

Coventry’s new Standards Committee will decide on Friday whether or not to recommend the new levels to the council for acceptance.

The committee of independent people not connected with the council has been set up to provide an impartial view of what the pay should be.

If passed the levels will not come into force until new Government regulations are implemented next year.

Conservative leader Tim Sawdon said he was amazed that the new political system was costing more money.

He said:

“I would have expected that a new streamlined system of political management would lead to a smaller bill.

“A 12 per cent rise indicates that the new system is as chaotic as it always used to be.”

Cllr Sawdon will receive £3,000 under the new arrangements, a cut of £518.

Cllr Rob Windsor (Socialist, St Michael’s) said his political group had not yet discussed he new pay, but he was personally against such a large increase.

He said there is a case for paying people if they lose money from their normal job because of council duties, but would limit the a full-time wage for the leader to the national average wage for a skilled worker.

He said of his existing council salary:

“I take that which pays for the hours I lose at work, and the rest is used for campaigning and keeping the residents informed with our quarterly newsletter.

“I don’t support having a cabinet system anyway, and these levels of pay breed careerism.”

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 14 Sep 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM