Opposition calls for closer look at £13,000 council allowances
Published: 14 Aug 2012 13:301 comment
OPPOSITION councillors have pledged to formally challenge a decision that boosts the salaries of Tory members running-council owned companies to more than £13,000 a year each.
The Lib Dems have revealed plans to urge Wokingham Borough Council's overview and scrutiny committee to examine the controversial decision and get the Tory cabinet to look at it again later in the year.
It comes after last week's News revealed how councillors taking on the non-executive directors' roles are to receive £6,095 on top of their £7,350 basic allowances.
Cllr Tom McCann, who is calling for the controversial decision to be reviewed and taken back to the executive later in the year, said "The residents of Wokingham deserve better.
"In these tough economic times, it is not appropriate that councillors are to be paid more.
"There are examples in other councils where councillors are not paid more money to take on these roles; this is considered part of their duties.
"We will not sit by and let the Tories reward themselves when public services in the borough are under funding pressure.
"We want the Tories to think again about doing this."
Councils in Stockport, Kirklees and Northamptonshire do not pay an extra fee councillors with similar non-executive director roles - unlike Cllr Bob Pitts and Cllr Simon Weeks, directing social care company Optalis, Cllr David Chopping and Cllr Gary Cowan at Wokingham Housing Ltd, and deputy mayor UllaKarin Clark and Cllr Alistair Auty at Wokingham Enterprises Ltd.
Council leader Cllr David Lee said referring the matter for scrutiny will not do any harm but stressed the local authority is the worst funded by Government in the country and the companies are set up to generate "substantial profits".
He added: "A director of a limited company has criminal liability if things go wrong.
"The people we have asked to sit on these boards have agreed to do that and in return they have been given a small allowance in line with all other public bodies like an NHS Trust, which does not even have that liability.
"I have no doubt in my mind that we have done the right thing. If anybody would expect someone to take on this responsibly on a volunteer basis, they are mad."