‘Pay freeze’ continues for South Tyneside councillors

South Tyneside Council Chief Executive Martin Swales
South Tyneside Council Chief Executive Martin Swales

ALLOWANCES paid to councillors in South Tyneside are set to be frozen for the second year running.

An independent remuneration panel has recommended that the basic annual allowance of £7,226 given to all 54 borough councillors remains the same next financial year.

The main risk is that if members’ allowances do not properly compensate members for time and costs which they expend 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 role and responsibilities

The amount paid to the council leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, as a special responsibility allowance is also set to be frozen, staying at £27,820.

Those chairing the council’s various committees and panels would continue to receive between £4,817 and £9,635. The remuneration panel is made up of Andrew Moffat, chief executive of the Port of Tyne, Des Young, a director at Siemens, and Alan Clarke, a non-executive director with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.

Under their new recommendations, the nine members of the council’s decision-making cabinet would continue to receive £11,535 each for their roles, plus a basic allowance of £7,226, taking their payments to £18,761 – more than £360 a week.

Back in 2012, cabinet members received a 19.7 per cent hike, and chairmen of all the borough’s community area forums saw an allowance increase from £4,817 to £5,817, up 20.8 per cent.

In 2013, the panel recommended a five per cent increase for the council’s leader and deputy leader, but Coun Malcolm and his deputy, Coun Alan Kerr, chose not to accept it as a show of solidarity with struggling council workers.

The latest recommendation comes as the local authority sets about making £22m of savings in the forthcoming financial year.

A report from the authority’s chief executive, Martin Swales, is to be presented to members of the full council next week.

It says: “Each local authority is required to establish and maintain an independent remuneration panel. The purpose of the panel is to make recommendations to the full council about the allowances paid to elected members.

“The panel has not recommended any changes to the scheme. The proposed scheme for 2014-15 is identical to that of 2014-15.

“The main risk is that if members’ allowances do not properly compensate members for time and costs which they expend 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 role and responsibilities.

“A fair members’ allowances scheme will help to ensure diversity in the background of persons seeking to become members of the council by ensuring that members are properly compensated for the time and costs that they incur, making it easier for members of all communities to put themselves forward.”

Members of the borough council are to meet at South Shields Town Hall on Thursday to discuss the proposed freeze.

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