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Call for Shropshire councillors to get higher allowance after council tax court orders

By Andrew Morris | Politics | Published:

A senior councillor has called for a higher allowance for members after several were sent reminders about late payment of council tax.

Roger Evans

Councillor Roger Evans said that while he was disappointed that 12 councillors had been sent 36 reminders, with two dealt with by the court, he said it would be fair to increase allowances.

Between the 12, they owed the council more than £5,500. Councillor Steve Davenport, cabinet member for highways, was given two court orders and was banned from voting on financial matters.

Councilor Matt Lee, for Llanymynech, was also given a court order.

Councillors currently get an allowance of £11,584, with extra for positions on the cabinet and for roles such as leader and speaker.

But Councillor Evans, leader of the Lib Dem group, said he felt the time was right for an increase.

He said: “While I am disappointed to hear about so many colleagues receiving reminders about council tax, I can almost understand it.

“The basic wage for a councillor is not even matching what it was in 2009 and has been stagnant now for many years.

“I worry that some of these fellow councillors are probably stretching themselves too thin.

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“It is not a job where you can turn up for one or two meetings a week.

Full-time job

“It is a full-time job, helping residents, being at the end of the phone, reading reports, attending several meetings.

“The allowance for a basic councillor simply does not match that of a full-time wage and I can see how they could struggle to pay their council tax bill or fall a little bit behind with it.”

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A new panel to judge how much councillors receive in allowances was formed last month.

The previous independent remuneration panel all resigned in February 2018 after its recommendations were not adopted and the council said it had “little success” in recruiting new panel members until now.

The panel will decide how much money councillors will get – on top of the basic rate there is a top up of £8,655.75 for roles such as speaker, chairman and their deputies.

The leader role, currently held by Councillor Peter Nutting, pays £23,028.

Councillor Evans added: “It has been too long since it was looked at. Telford & Wrekin have recently had an increase – it is about time we did too.”

Councillor Julian Dean, Green Party councillor added: “To quote the council’s own website – ‘setting up a direct debit for council tax is simple’.

“But more seriously, this is not a good look and I hope there are some personal reasons to explain the late payments.”

Andrew Morris

By Andrew Morris
Local Democracy Reporter - @AndyMorrisLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Shropshire.

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