Councillors’ expenses bill lower than last year

Bury Town Hall

Bury Town Hall

First published in News Bury Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE bill for councillors’ expenses has dropped from last year, new figures show.

In the 12 months up to April 2014, the borough’s 51 councillors — plus former councillor Joanne Columbine — spent £578,431 of taxpayers’ cash compared with £590,133 in the previous 12 months.

The latest figures reveal £400,488 went on a basic allowance, with 49 representatives each receiving £7,949 for giving up their time to help constituents, with three others receiving less.

A further £175,826 was paid out for "special responsibilities", which is generally in exchange for councillors attending specialist meetings such as healthcare and town planning, and taking on extra casework.Some £2,117 went on travel and subsistence, though only four councillors claimed from that pot.

They were: council leader Cllr Mike Connolly, Cllr Jane Black, Cllr David Jones and Cllr Tamoor Tariq, to pay to get to various council-related meetings.

When Labour took control of the town hall in May 2011, it pledged to reduce the expenses bill for councillors and has banned travel expenses for journeys within the borough and reduced the "special responsibility" claims by almost £60,000.

Council leader Mike Connolly led by example by reducing his own pay from £33,123 to £30,339.

However, opposition parties want Labour to go further.

Previously, Bury Conservatives leader, Cllr Iain Gartside, has urged Labour to reduce the number of councillors by one third in a move that could save £195,000 annually.

Bury Lib Dems representative, Cllr Tim Pickstone, has backed a proposal to investigate the idea.

Labour have not ruled out the move, but its councillors have identified potential flaws.

A party spokesman said a review of wards and boundaries would have to be carried out and that in itself would take time and cost money.

He added: “We are suggesting to Government that a root-and-branch review of democratic representation should be undertaken across Government and local authorities. We cannot do it in isolation.”

He added: “It’s an idea we should look at, but it isn’t as simple as proposing it one day and bringing it in the next.”

Comments (4)

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3:10pm Thu 7 Aug 14

pablozabaleta says...

This article is very misleading. Councillors allowances make up the overwhelming majority of the "expenses", but these aren't expenses. They're an amount given to Councillors and set independently by a panel involving members of the public. Councillors don't have to actively claim them, nor can they claim more. Out of the £590,000, only £2,117 was actually expenses above and beyond the allowances independently set.

You can say that Cllr Connolly has "led by example" by reducing the Leader's salary by 10%, but I think we should ask ourselves what kind of Council Leader we want. Being a Council Leader is a full time job, and whilst it's OK for a retired former teacher with a nice pension like Cllr Connolly to use his Leader's allowance as pocket money, no working professional could countenance being Leader because of the pay cut it would entail. Any doctor or lawyer or teacher or accountant would be put off public service because they would be less able to pay the bills. Cllr Connolly's "leading by example" restricts Council Leadership to the rich and/or old. Not that I blame him alone. Anyone who sneers at "expenses" shares the blame.

Cutting Councillor numbers makes a lot of sense. There's really no need to have three per ward. Why not two or even one? There wouldn't have to be a boundary review. Just keep the same boundaries and reduce the number of Councillors per ward.
This article is very misleading. Councillors allowances make up the overwhelming majority of the "expenses", but these aren't expenses. They're an amount given to Councillors and set independently by a panel involving members of the public. Councillors don't have to actively claim them, nor can they claim more. Out of the £590,000, only £2,117 was actually expenses above and beyond the allowances independently set. You can say that Cllr Connolly has "led by example" by reducing the Leader's salary by 10%, but I think we should ask ourselves what kind of Council Leader we want. Being a Council Leader is a full time job, and whilst it's OK for a retired former teacher with a nice pension like Cllr Connolly to use his Leader's allowance as pocket money, no working professional could countenance being Leader because of the pay cut it would entail. Any doctor or lawyer or teacher or accountant would be put off public service because they would be less able to pay the bills. Cllr Connolly's "leading by example" restricts Council Leadership to the rich and/or old. Not that I blame him alone. Anyone who sneers at "expenses" shares the blame. Cutting Councillor numbers makes a lot of sense. There's really no need to have three per ward. Why not two or even one? There wouldn't have to be a boundary review. Just keep the same boundaries and reduce the number of Councillors per ward. pablozabaleta
  • Score: 6

9:51am Fri 8 Aug 14

Lostcause says...

If they were that bothered about the good of the Borough and its public why couldn't they just volunteer like a lot of people helping others free of charge
If they were that bothered about the good of the Borough and its public why couldn't they just volunteer like a lot of people helping others free of charge Lostcause
  • Score: -5

1:14pm Fri 8 Aug 14

pablozabaleta says...

Lostcause wrote:
If they were that bothered about the good of the Borough and its public why couldn't they just volunteer like a lot of people helping others free of charge
Because far fewer people would do it, and because those that would would either be poor quality or, most likely, rich and retired.

Being a Councillor is hard work. Getting elected (especially in a marginal seat) takes a massive amount of work leafleting, canvassing etc. Then once you've won, it's several nights a week at meetings, lots of casework, lots of daytime things to do in the community.

It's not like doing a couple of hours every week running the tuck shop at the youth club.

People don't become Councillors for the money. £7k a year isn't going to have them buying a solid gold Rolls Royce and driving it to their Tuscan holiday villa. But we shouldn't ask them to give up that much time for nothing. And at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. If you want a cohort of Councillors who are all rich, old and from a shallow talent pool, offer to pay them nothing and that's what you'll get.
[quote][p][bold]Lostcause[/bold] wrote: If they were that bothered about the good of the Borough and its public why couldn't they just volunteer like a lot of people helping others free of charge[/p][/quote]Because far fewer people would do it, and because those that would would either be poor quality or, most likely, rich and retired. Being a Councillor is hard work. Getting elected (especially in a marginal seat) takes a massive amount of work leafleting, canvassing etc. Then once you've won, it's several nights a week at meetings, lots of casework, lots of daytime things to do in the community. It's not like doing a couple of hours every week running the tuck shop at the youth club. People don't become Councillors for the money. £7k a year isn't going to have them buying a solid gold Rolls Royce and driving it to their Tuscan holiday villa. But we shouldn't ask them to give up that much time for nothing. And at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. If you want a cohort of Councillors who are all rich, old and from a shallow talent pool, offer to pay them nothing and that's what you'll get. pablozabaleta
  • Score: 3

11:46am Wed 13 Aug 14

6ef6a424@opayq.com says...

pablozabaleta wrote:
And at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. If you want a cohort of Councillors who are all rich, old and from a shallow talent pool, offer to pay them nothing and that's what you'll get.

People who are rich have I guess achieved something, maybe in business or working for many years. People who are old have lived a long time and have a lot of experience in dealing with lifes problems. Whats wrong with people from this shallow talent pool? Or perhaps you would like a 24 year old socialist/communist activist who would have no problem spending your money. I think we have enough of these!
pablozabaleta wrote: And at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. If you want a cohort of Councillors who are all rich, old and from a shallow talent pool, offer to pay them nothing and that's what you'll get. People who are rich have I guess achieved something, maybe in business or working for many years. People who are old have lived a long time and have a lot of experience in dealing with lifes problems. Whats wrong with people from this shallow talent pool? Or perhaps you would like a 24 year old socialist/communist activist who would have no problem spending your money. I think we have enough of these! 6ef6a424@opayq.com
  • Score: 0

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