A historic change is in prospect for Penarth Town Council which – for the first time – is to be required to pay salaries to its “senior” councillors…. because they are no longer regarded as “volunteers”.
The money would come from the Penarth Town Precept element of the Council Tax paid by local residents.
Up until now, councillors elected to Penarth Town Council have not been paid a salary of any kind . They stand for election in the full knowledge that – if elected – they are expected to carry out their not-very-demanding-roles without payment of any kind from the public purse.
In times gone by, being elected to Penarth Council was regarded as an honour and a privilege. Councillors were regarded as performing a public service for the public good without any thought of remuneration or payment. But now – in a historic and highly controversial proposal – the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales is casting aside this long tradition of hitherto selfless public service .
The panel says it is “of the view that Community and Town Councillors are not
volunteers because further to the democratic process they have accepted formal responsibilities and they all face some degree of liability, in respect of the Council functions they are running.”
Because Penarth Town Council is rated as an “A” category council (based on its annual expenditure and the level of income from the Penarth Precept) the panel is authorising it to pay what amounts to ‘salaries’ for most of its members
The Leader of Penarth Town Council – (Cllr Mike Cuddy Labour St Augustines) was in receipt of £500 p.a. This can now be increased to up to £1,500 p.a. and is called a “Civic Leader’s” salary.
- The Deputy Mayor (Cllr Jon Luxton Labour Stanwell) can be paid up
to a maximum amount of £500 p.a. to undertake the functions of that office.
- Penarth Town Council “must” now make an annual payment of £500 a year to a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 5 councillors in recognition of “specific responsibilities”. [ These responsibilities would normally be the chairmanship of various committees and might therefore include Cllr Nigel Humphrey (Labour St Augustines) Planning Committee, and Cllr Rhiannon Birch (Labour Cornerswell) Venues, Facilities and Events Committee . All the other committees are chaired by Cllr Cuddy himself] .
- All Penarth Town Councillors ( including the “senior councillors” now to be paid £500 a year ) can also charge £150 a year for “costs and expenses“.
TRAVEL EXPENSES:- All Penarth Town Councillors will be able to charge travel expenses according to the following scale:-
- 45p per mile up to 10,000 miles in the year.
- 25p per mile over 10,000 miles.
- 5p per mile per passenger carried on authority business.
- 24p per mile for private motor cycles.
- 20p per mile for bicycles. [There is no reimbursement proposed for walking to the venue of a council engagement – an omission which might be seen by some as discrimination in favour of the vociferous left-wing cycling lobby]
- Councillors using public transport they can reclaim the actual costs incurred.
CHILD-CARE AND PERSONAL ASSISTANCE:
All Penarth councillors can charge up to £403 per month for “child-care provided by formal and informal carers” and for personal assistance if they require it.
The Independent Remuneration Panel says in its report that requires all Town Councils to “publish details of all payments made to individual members in an annual Statement of Payments. This information must be published on council noticeboards and/or websites (with easy access) and provided to the Panel by email or by post no later than 30 September following the end of the year to which the payments relate.”
The Remuneration Panel reports that “a significant number of councils are in breach of this requirement”.
The Labour-run Penarth Town Council is amongst the town councils which is in breach of these rules.