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Decision on paying presiding member delayed for constitution review

PAYING the council’s presiding member was up for discussion this week with a decision put off until a full review of the constitution is undertaken later this year.

The role of presiding member was created in 2020 – and the first councillor to take on the role was Cllr Pat Davies in early 2021 – on a non-remunerated basis and the current Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) indicating a band three senior salary of £25,593, including basic allowance.

At democratic services committee on Monday (June 27) Cllr Jamie Adams said: “It seems strange that we’ve got a matter before us just because a number of members think it should come before us,” in reference to the report stating why the matter of remuneration of the presiding member had arisen.

Head of democracy Susan Sanders said around four, predominately unaffiliated members, some no longer on the council had expressed “surprise” that the role was not paid.

Cllr Adams added that there was a statutory duty to review the constitution and changing things with “piecemeal decisions” was not something he agreed with and there was a need to not increase the costs of democratic services.

Cllr Elwyn Morse raised a point about the chairman and vice-chairman salaries not being changed following the introduction of the presiding member, who has taken over chairing full council meetings.

The civic “pot” is separate to the special responsibility allowance (SRA) cap, the committee heard, but both are paid from the council’s budget.

Review “in the round” the constitution, including the number of scrutiny committees, was proposed by Cllr Adams.

Look at other options to fund the role, such as increasing SRA cap through the while reducing the IRPW civic salaries by not having a vice chairman, and remaining cost neutral, with some committee members in favour of paying the presiding member.

Committee chairman Cllr Di Clements said it did appear “unfair” that a presiding member does a lot of the work of a chairman, who would be paid, while not receiving any payment, but any solution needed to be “cost neutral.”

The committee agreed that the post remains unremunerated at this moment in time, with further work undertaken during the review of the constitution.

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