Vote on pay for councillors

COUNCILLORS can vote themselves an inflation-rate increase to their allowances this week.

The authority's 54 ward members could claim a basic allowance of 7,161 if the go-ahead is given to a proposed four per cent hike.

Senior councillors receiving 'special responsibility allowances' will also be able to claim more.

They include council leader Coun Paul Waggott, who would receive 26,260 for his role, and his deputy, Coun Iain Malcolm, who could claim 16,710.

An independent remuneration panel – made up of public sector figures outside the council – has made the recommendation over the increases, which would cost the council 26,313 to implement.

Under the proposals, councillors can also claim out-of-pocket allowances for overnight stays and meals, which are set to rise by 3.1 per cent.

Members' allowances are always a sensitive political issue, and some members of the opposition – including Westoe Independent councillors Jane and Allen Branley – have in the past refused to collect them.

The husband and wife team say the honour of representing the borough should be sufficient reward.

But a report to be presented to members of the council's full council tomorrow said a reasonable level of allowances was needed to attract new members.

The report says: "The main risk is that if members' allowances do not properly compensate members for the time and costs which they expand as members, it may become more difficult to attract persons to stand as candidates for the council, and it may become more difficult for existing members to carry out their full role and responsibilities."

The full council is to meet in the committee suite at South Shields Town Hall from 3pm tomorrow (Feb 28).