Agenda Item 10 (Full Council - 2003)
I have just fought an election on this issue so I really do think I should say something about it.
Councillors' pay is a sensitive issue. I don't think people are persuaded that Councillors are worth the money which they are paid. Councillors need to recognise these concerns.
In this particular case we have a new Committee to deal with licensing - of taxis, premises for entertainment, shops and suchlike. This Committee has been formed because after April next year it will probably take on the role of liquor licensing, previously been done by Magistrates Courts.
It is recommended the Chair of this new Committee gets an extra £1306 special responsibility allowance - the same as the Standards Committee, although at least £2,500 lower than all other Committee Chairmen.
Nevertheless, this Committee, like the others, meets 7 or 8 times a year. Each meeting in the evening, lasting approximately 2 hours. That makes a payment of £163 per meeting or £82 per hour. Even allowing for preparation work outside of meeting times this is still the sort of money that your average on benefits or minimum wage worker thinks is obscene. Maybe this is what makes people not want to go out and vote. If Councillors feel these levels of pay are justified then I say they have not yet convinced ordinary people - and they haven't yet convinced me. Councillors should recognise there is a vital Public Relations exercise yet to be done on Councillors Pay.
And even more so, the greater the levels of pay to local Councillors - the greater is the power of patronage for the political parties. For many people this is a very bad development in local politics.
But the new Chair must be paid something. But since a third of this Committee's work, liquor licensing, doesn't begin until April of next year, it does seems to me only fair that the pay for this Committee Chair should reflect that and be reduced by, I would reasonably suggest, 25% until it takes on the responsibilities for liquor licensing. Therefore I propose an amendment to the recommendation in the report. I would like to add a new sentence on the end of the recommendation to say, "The amount to be reduced
by 25% until such time as this Licensing Committee takes on responsibilities for liquor licensing."
By supporting this amendment Members would then start to show they recognise the concerns of ordinary people as far as Councillors pay is concerned.
Do I have a seconder? Thank you.
(note - there was no seconder so the amendment was not even discussed)