Pay rise of £2,400 a year for Flintshire councillors described as ‘a hospital pass’
Proposals which could see councillors in Flintshire receive a pay rise of more than £2,400 a year have been described as “a hospital pass”.
The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) has recommended standard pay rates for members of local authorities should be increased by 16.9 per cent.
In its draft annual report, the body responsible for setting politicians’ pay said their salaries had fallen below the average amount earned by people in Wales.
However, a senior official from Flintshire Council said the suggestion of lifting the basic annual salary from £14,368 to £16,800 following next year’s local elections had put councillors in a difficult position.
Speaking at a meeting of the authority’s constitution and democratic services committee, chief governance officer Gareth Owens said: “The disparity has arisen because the IRPW has allowed the disparity to grow over the last term.
“If I were a councillor, I’d be very aggrieved that the IRPW has taken the decision to raise them just before an election. That leaves you in an invidious situation.
“You’ve got a recommendation that against all benchmarks and competitors is a perfectly valid recommendation.
“But it’s been suggested right before an election, which brings an unhelpful spotlight onto the recommended raise. I think this is a real hospital pass by the IRPW.”
According to a report presented to the committee, the new salary structure would cost the council an extra sum of nearly £170,000 in the next financial year.
Senior post holders and civic heads would also receive a hike in their wage under the proposals, with the council leader set to earn £56,700 – a rise of more than £6,700.
Labour councillor David Healey said pay levels for politicians had fallen behind “quite dramatically” in the last few years.
But the Caergwrle representative said increasing their salary by such a large amount in one go would be “inappropriate” and suggested it should be introduced gradually over several years instead.
Speaking at last Wednesday’s (November 17, 2021) meeting, Cllr Healey said: “The salaries for councillors do need to help to address the problem of diversity within councils.
“There are so many people who are effectively disenfranchised and not able to participate.
“The recommendations are that we write to the Independent Remuneration Panel, pointing to them that they have failed to allow the salaries to keep pace and secondly, arguing that the salary increases be phased in.”
Cllr Mike Peers (Ind), leader of the largest opposition group on the council, said: “In the past, we’ve been embarrassed by having to stand up in the chamber and discuss this to talk about who’s having what.
“I think we’ve got to move away from all that as this is for the whole of Wales – it’s not just Flintshire.
“It’s a 17 per cent rise at the end of the day, and compared with the public sector, it is felt that it’s wrong.”
Councillors agreed to submit a response to the IRPW to make their views known at the end of the debate.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter
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