PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL TO PAY YEARLY FEE TO COUNCIL LEADER

The leader of Penarth Town Council is to be paid a yearly allowance for the first time - breaking a 141-year tradition of voluntary service.

The leader of Penarth Town Council is to be paid a yearly allowance for the first time – breaking a 140-year tradition of voluntary service.

Penarth Town Council has decided to break its 140-year-long tradition of unpaid voluntary service by councillors and – for the first time – make an annual payment to the Leader of the Council. 

Since 1875 all members of Penarth Town Council (now 16 of them)  have been expected to do the job purely on a voluntary and unpaid basis.  Except for the Mayor’s special allowance, all that the rest of them have been entitled to receive (if they claim it) is £100 a year to cover phone and IT costs and mileage on council duties and travelling expenses.

However Penarth Town Council’s policy and finance committee has been considering the final annual report of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales –  the body which decides on the payments and salaries of elected representatives  –  and has been going through a list of the panel’s “determinations” which have now widened the scope to give payment to some councillors.

COUNCIL LEADER REMUNERATION

A new “determination” by the Independent Remuneration Panel gives the  council – for the very first time – the right, if it so decides, to pay up to 3 councillors an “additional annual payment of  up to £500  in recognition of specific responsibilities”. This is an allowance which has never been paid before by Penarth Town Council.

Penarth's well-respected Town Clerk Shan Bowden retires at the end of this month

Penarth’s well-respected Town Clerk Shan Bowden retires at the end of this month

The Town Clerk Shan Bowden – attending her final meeting prior to her retirement at the end of this month – justified the proposed new payment by saying  “There are certain members who do spend a lot of time in the office. The  role of the Leader particularly, not just in this administration but in any administration, is needed. That person’s time is needed within the office”. She told councillors “That is one area you may wish to consider” .

Deputy Mayor of Penarth and Leader of Penarth Town Council Leader Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) is deputy mayor

Leader of Penarth Town Council Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines)

The Leader of Penarth Town Council, Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) who is also chair of the Policy and Finance Committee  remained in the chair during the ensuing discussion and invited comments from councillors.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said “There is a huge amount going on in this council with restructuring and the Town Plan and the Momentum Group which is taking   a lot of time of the Leader . I suggest that, without making it a regular thing, that this year we pay the authorised £500 to the Leader of the Council – just the one payment because of the particular circumstances we find ourselves in”.

The potential beneficiary of this arrangement – Cllr Cuddy – asked from the chair if there were any other observations.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked whether the amount in question would be reviewed annually. He was assured that it could be. Cllr Turner said he would support the payment.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) chairman of the planning committee has had its recommendation overturned.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) chairman of the planning committee has had its recommendation overturned.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) –  referring to the possibility of up to 3 councillors being eligible for the £500 payments – said he was aware that there were a lot of members of the council who put in a lot of time and effort. “It would” he said “be hard to distinguish just 2  others who merit this –  compared with the numbers who do put that effort in“. He thought extending the payments to 3 councillors would be “unfair to the ones who would be missed out”. Cllr Thomas said the Council Leader [Cllr Cuddy] had a “particularly heavy duty”.

The Town Clerk, Shan Bowden – who retires at the end of this month – said the Leader of the council was – in effect –  the “line manager to the Town Clerk”.  

…”Particularly when you have a troublesome Town Clerk” – interjected Cllr Roberts to laughter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Cllr Cuddy said he had heard the Town Clerk Shan Bowden  being described as the “Angela Merkel of Penarth” .

The Town Clerk retorted – light-heartedly – that she had not actually heard the Leader calling her that – and might now consult her solicitor.

There was further laughter when Cllr Turner proposed – tongue-in-cheek –  that, following that remark, the newly-agreed  £500 payment to the Leader should now be reduced to £250.  However, the £500 annual payment was agreed.

MAYORAL ALLOWANCES

The Policy and Finance Committee also debated the so-called “Civic Allowance” determination. This authorises town councils to pay allowances to both the Town Mayor and the Deputy Town Mayor  during their parallel years of office.

Until now  Penarth Council  has paid the Town Mayor an allowance (currently £3,000) for the year of office but the policy has been to pay the Deputy Mayor nothing.

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) is a former Mayor of Penarth

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) is a former Mayor of Penarth

Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he disagreed with the existing council policy. He said it was quite often necessary for the Deputy Mayor to attend functions in lieu of the mayor  and did so “out of their own pocket and at their own expense”.   Without an allowance if Deputy Mayors were to represent the town “suitably attired I think the phrase is” and contribute to raffles and such things they would be doing so out of their own pocket. It was unacceptable that the Deputy Mayor – when standing in for the Mayor –  had to then go to the Mayor and ask for a contribution towards costs incurred. He moved that the council pay Deputy Mayors the sum of £200 for their year in office.

The committee chairman Cllr Cuddy – already the beneficiary of the £500 payment for Leader – noted that he was also the current Deputy Mayor but remained in his chair for the discussion.

The motion to pay £200 to the Deputy Mayor was seconded by Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) and supported by Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward) who said that if the Deputy was acting on behalf of the council “they should have some remuneration”.

Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Philip Rapier (Labour St Augustines) said he agreed with the motion – but he somewhat qualified his remarks by pointing out that  “The spirit of the Town Council is one of volunteering” .

However Cllr Rapier supported the proposal to make a new payment to the Deputy Mayor. If the Deputy Mayor was not in receipt of an allowance, he said,  “Somehow it ever-so-slightly demeans the office – it slightly cheapens it – and that cannot be right” .

Drawing the debate to a conclusion, Cllr Cuddy said there was unanimity, “to all intents and purposes”.  The payments will now be implemented.

PDN NOTE: Under the new Wales-wide rules of the Independent Remuneration Panel, councillors are also allowed to claim for expenses incurred when on duty outside the council area as follows:-

  • £28 per day for meals – including breakfast.
  • £200 London overnight allowance
  • £95 overnight allowance elsewhere (out of the council area)
  • £30 Staying with friends or family overnight (out of the council area)

ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE

Councillors can claim at “attendance allowance” for “attending approved duties outside the area of the council”:-

  • £16.23 for a period not exceeding 4 hours
  • £32.46 for a period exceeding 4 hours but not exceeding 24 hours

FINANCIAL LOSS ALLOWANCE:

Councillors attending approved duties outside the council area can claim – instead of an attendance allowance (as above) a “Financial Loss Allowance” (e.g. to recompense for loss of loss of  pay) “where such loss has actually occurred” at the following rates:-

  • £30.45 for a period not exceeding 4 hours
  • £60.11 for a period over 4 but less than 24 hours
  • For a period over 24 hours £60.11 plus such amount as appropriate

CARE ALLOWANCE

The Remuneration Panel has authorised councils – including Penarth Town Council – to pay councillors up to £403.00p a month to fund the care of “dependent children and others whilst attending meetings and other approved duties”  .

Councillors can also now reclaim the costs of what is delphically called  “the care of personal assistance needs provided by informal or formal carers”  .

It says this is to “address issues of democratic participation and diversity “. Councillors have to produce receipts “from the carer ” to prove the expenditure has actually been incurred.

PUBLICITY REQUIREMENTS

The Independent Remuneration Panel has laid down that all councils must publish the details of all payments made to individual councillors on its website by September 30th each year and says “the panel notes with concern that this requirement has not been complied with by many councils” .

About NewsNet

Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time.
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9 Responses to PENARTH TOWN COUNCIL TO PAY YEARLY FEE TO COUNCIL LEADER

  1. Chris Wyatt says:

    Given the work that our town councillors do on our behalf, particularly the leader of the council, these sums seem quite modest and it is surely reasonable that people should not be out of pocket for the commitment they make.

  2. Ron Foxton says:

    Agreed. That’s ALL voluntary members should not be out of pocket for the commitment they make, but extra payments do demean the voluntary nature of the role and by definition mark out some members of the voluntary council as more worthy than others. Are these payments classed as earnings and therefore taxable?

  3. John64 says:

    In reply to Ron Foxton I believe it be the case that Town Mayors etc. who receive an “allowance” should keep a record of their expenditure in carrying out their roles and that if the allowance exceeds that total the difference should be declared is untaxed income. Hope this helps.

  4. Christopher David says:

    Thin end of wedge.

  5. Kevin says:

    I’m assuming that the proposed new payments are to be introduced after the next local authority elections take place in 2017?

    I would find it most extraordinary (if reported correctly) that a leader of a council remained present in the room never mind still chairing the meeting if any of these payments are to introduced during their tenure.

    • newsnet says:

      Provision has been made in the Penarth Town Council budget for the payments to be made in the financial year 2016/17. The next council elections are due in the 2017/18 financial year.

  6. RetailGuru says:

    A few points:

    – It is quite wrong for beneficiaries of this policy to be present (and chair) during this meeting

    – I also find it odd that 3 people are selected to benefit; this will inevitably cause division, whether it be £500 or any other amount.

    – The roles are voluntary and should be kept that way.

    – The Town Council has a small enough budget, so what is the point in awarding these relatively insignificant sums to a few individuals??

  7. Huw says:

    Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he disagreed with the existing council policy. He said it was quite often necessary for the Deputy Mayor to attend functions in lieu of the mayor “, ” and contribute to raffles and such things they would be doing so out of their own pocket.”

    Do this mean in future all winnings from such raffles will be handed over to the taxpayers of Penarth for a divvy up ?

  8. Christopher David says:

    Yup agree- stay voluntary or scrap!
    Cllr Earnest appears to be bereft of any new ideas anyway. We’ll,,,, he wont challenge me! just runs off. I think exceptions could be made if say a councillor was tasked with a big piece of original work that involved expense and time. But the council don’t appear to have the imagination for this! Lets say Cllr Courtney was tasked with an investigation into business rate subsidy for charities in Penarth- and maybe even the VOG!. And area he’s eminently qualified to report on. The same may go for Cllr Earnest when it comes to keeping the streets clean. He’s qualified in this area it seems but doesn’t come up with anything new even when prompted! We’ll I think in those circumstances an extra-curricular payment would be in order. Hey that’s a new idea- wow !! But surely- the basic councillor role must remain voluntary or it will get out of hand; like the £110,000 PA plus council managers we have who cannot even work out a meals on wheels budget.

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