THE leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has defended himself after it was revealed a senior councillor is receiving two senior salaries.
At Blaenau Gwent’s full council meeting, on Thursday, July 28, it was revealed that the chairman of one of the authority’s scrutiny committees also receives payment for another role for the council.
At the meeting Labour councillors called for transparency on the issue.
The exchanges took place as councillors discussed a proposed increase to members’ pay for this year recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW), and to decide to publish details of what members received in the 2020/21 financial year.
Cllr Lisa Winnett said that she had asked in a previous meeting why a member of the “majority” Independent group was receiving payment for two posts.
“Where these payments have been made has these monies been paid back?” asked Cllr Winnett.
Council leader Cllr Nigel Daniels said: “I’ve been made aware of the area you are talking about.
“I’m not going to name individuals, suffice to say there’s an additional allowance paid to a chair.
“Receiving a special responsibility allowance from us is permissible, so I’m content.
Cllr Winnett said: “I find that contradictory, only one extra payment is allowed not two.”
Labour group leader, Cllr Stephen Thomas said: “Transparency is all when it comes to SRA (Special Responsibility Allowances). The public have a right to know who’s doing what.
“It may be permissible, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do in the face of the public.”
Cllr Daniels admitted that he recommended the unnamed councillor be appointed to the role because of “experience and knowledge” and that his decision had been endorsed by the council at the time.
“I make no apologies for that, it’s the right and best placed individual performing the right function on behalf of the authority,” said Cllr Daniels.
Cllr Thomas said: “There’s no issue whether they are the best person for the job, the point is that person is holding two SRA’s, which I don’t think the public will be too happy about.”
The items were approved at the council meeting.
The IRPW, which sets and decides salary and expenses for councillors in Wales, says councillors “should not be remunerated” for more than one senior post within an authority.
Earlier this year the IRPW approved a 1.06 per cent rise to councillor’s salaries – amounting to an extra £150 per year.
This will see the basic salary for Blaenau Gwent councillors go up to £14,368, senior salary payments are added to this.
- Committee chairmen and women will receive £23,161.
- Executive committee members will receive £27, 741.
- Deputy council leaders will receive £31,783
- Council leaders will receive £44,921.
Two senior salaries of £8,793 are also given to the councillors who are directors and sit on the Silent Valley Waste Services Ltd board.
Authorities are not able to amend the nationally set remuneration rates, but individual councillors may choose to forego part of their entitlement if they wish to do so in writing.