Shropshire councillors' allowances set for fresh examination
A panel that decides how much Shropshire councillors receive in allowances is set to be appointed next week – a year and a half after the previous panel resigned when its recommendations were rejected.
Shropshire Council's independent remuneration panel stepped down in February last year when councillors voted not to carry out its suggestion for changes to the amounts some members were paid.
The proposal had been for the basic councillor allowance to remain at £11,514, and for cuts to a number of senior posts, such as the authority’s chairman, vice chairman, speaker and deputy speakers’ special allowances, which would have been reduced from £8,655.75 to £5,757 – a reduction of £2,898.75.
The report had said the panel “acknowledged the importance of the work” undertaken, but “took the view that the demands of the role were out of alignment” with allowances.
However, council leader Peter Nutting’s allowance was recommended to be increased from £23,028 to £28,785, which would have resulted in a total package of £40,299 from all allowances.
The proposal was thrown out when Councillor Nutting himself criticised the plan and put forward a motion calling for the report to go back to the board to be reconsidered.
Speaking at a meeting in February 2018, Councillor Nutting said the report did not reflect his comments to the panel.
He told the two IRP members present at the meeting: "I do not agree with the report. Some things I said to the panel do not appear to have been taken on board at all.
"I did not ask for an increase in the leader's allowance. I think that money should go to increasing the basic allowance all councillors get."
The motion was passed and the panel subsequently stepped down.
Now the council is set to agree a new panel at Thursday's meeting of full council.
A report to be considered by the council states: "Shropshire Council is required to appoint an Independent Remuneration Panel of at least three members to produce a report making recommendations in respect of members allowances."
The report says that there has been difficulty in finding people to take on the role as panel members.
It states: "Following consideration by Council of the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel in February 2018, all members of the Panel resigned.
"Efforts have been ongoing to recruit new members with little success until now.
"Panel members from neighbouring Authorities have been approached and Richard Garnett, from Herefordshire County Council, agreed to help. The two Independent Persons appointed by Shropshire Council under the Localism Act 2011, Stephen Donkersley and Tim Griffiths have also agreed to assist."
The matter will be considered by councillors on Thursday.