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Letter to press - Labour fail to tackle thorny issue of Councillors pay

October 7, 2011 10:12 PM

The Council meeting on 28th September featured an item on the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) report. The IRP sets the salary levels for Councillors across Wales and are consulting on new proposals which would see the Leader and Cabinet Members in RCT forced to take a substantial pay cut. In fact the level of all Councillors salaries in RCT would fall.

The panel originally set recommendations for maximum salary levels for Councillors - most Council set the levels below the maximum. Not Labour in RCT - they set it at the absolute highest level they could. This made Russell Roberts the most highly paid Councillor in Wales even without his extra income from other bodies he serves on, and they seem determined to keep it that way.

They Labour group decided there should not be a whole Council response to the consultation report, that party groups should submit their own comments. They further voted to support the Welsh Local Government Association response to the consultation. No indication was given as to what that may say, and when I asked after the meeting if I could see a copy I was told that the WLGA were not meeting to discuss it until the Friday following the Council meeting.

Now unless the Labour group have been brushing up on their psychic skills or they had information given to them that the rest of us mere mortal Councillors were not privy to then how could they possibly endorse a position that had not been decided upon.

Labour have, of course already made their position clear. Cllr Maureen Webber, the Labour whip, had a letter published some weeks ago defending the three jobs her leader currently has. Russell in his annual report waxed lyrical about what a great advantage it is to him having such a close working relationship with the Police and the Health Board. (you may ask if it is quite such an advantage to the people of RCT).

Will they be making their response to the Panel's report available to the public? RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats have already submitted a response to this report, a copy of which can be found on our website www.pontylibdems.org.uk .

We have made it clear that we are broadly speaking in agreement with the recommendations made. It is unfair to ask employees to make sacrifices and to enforce alterations in their terms and conditions if Councillors are not prepared to do the same. We also fully support the view that the Leader's position should be a full time commitment.

RCT was one of only 5 Councils in Wales who implemented the maximum allowance for Leader and Deputy following the previous recommendations. Russell Roberts is fond of quoting events in Cardiff and Swansea in the Chamber - perhaps he would like to note that Councillors there did not take the maximum allowance, neither did Wrexham. Those Councils are of course all Welsh Liberal Democrat led. Furthermore the leaders of those Councils commit themselves full time to their roles.

I look forward to reading the official position of the Labour party in RCT - no doubt such an open and transparent body of people will be making their opinions known widely.

Cllr Mike Powell

Welsh Liberal Democrat, Trallwn.