Telford councillors to receive 20 per cent pay rise
Telford & Wrekin Council members will receive a 20 per cent pay rise after they voted in favour of the move last night.
Leader of the council, Councillor Shaun Davies, has admitted the decision to increase councillors' pay is "not a priority" to residents.
Councillor Shaun Davies was speaking following the vote, saying it is a necessity to ensure people from different backgrounds and wealth could represent constituents on the local authority.
Basic allowances will increase from £7,870 to £9,444 and a number of senior positions will also see increases.
The motion to review allowances was brought to the council following a recommendation from the Independent Remunerations Panel.
Councillor Davies said: "I know this issue isn't popular and not a priority for our residents, however this is the first review of our allowances since Labour took over the council in 2011 and it is something that will not be brought back to the council in the short-to-medium term.
"We are significantly less remunerated than other local councils in the area and I think there's a balance to be struck. Do you want a council chamber full of people that are retired or rich enough to be able to perform their duties for free, or as we've got, a real diverse bunch of people who fit in their work or don't work as a result of their service to the council?"
Councillor Davies added that the council has resisted legal advice to review allowances every one-to-two years, a practice often taken by other local authorities.
The chair of the Independent Remunerations Panel, professor Steve Leach, said the pressure on councillors had increased as well as work load brought on by cut backs in staffing.
The council leader's special responsibility allowance will increase by £5,295 – from £23,768 to £29,063, which is now more than the leader of Shropshire Council, councillor Peter Nutting.
Nine members of the Telford Conservative opposition abstained from voting despite speaking in favour of the increase, which has seen Conservative leader councillor Andrew Eade's allowances go up to £11,804.
He said: "I spoke in favour of a good deal of the allowances, but the crux of the problem for us is around scrutiny and how we actually operate scrutiny as a local authority.
"As a report from professor Steve Leach said, this authority is quite unique in not allowing opposition councillors to head up scrutiny to challenge the administration.
"Where you have a cabinet system with a leader who can virtually, as long as it's legal, do whatever they wish there has to be that inbuilt challenge."