‘PAY INCREASE’ ON CARDS FOR COUNCILLORS?

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The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council could be in line for a pay increase after a Council committee voted in favour of increased allowances.

Last week the Corporate, Policy and Resources Committee discussed the payment of Special Responsibility Allowances payable to councillors.

A number of changes were recommended including one that the sum of £12,000 should be paid to the Mayor, with immediate effect, due to the workload and time commitment required to cover such a large council area.

It was also recommended that the Deputy Mayor’s allowance be increased by £1,000 per year with immediate effect.

Also in line for a ‘pay increase’ of £1,200 per year are members of the Planning Committee.

While the proposed increases were approved by the committee, a number of councillors were unhappy with the added expenditure.

Cllr George Duddy said: “I have some concern about the extra allowance being paid considering the committee get the best advice from planning officers.

“The average attendance of members of the planning committee at site meetings is only 32% and out of 11 meetings the average time spent was just two and a half hours. To ask for an increase of £1,200 per year is above and beyond. We already get an allowance of £14,200 as a councillor.

“The allowance for councillors already went up from £10,000 to £14,000, I wouldn’t agree with an increase of £1,200 just because you sit on a panel and it’s unfair on other councillors that those in planning get an increase.

“When you add the Mayor’s allowance to the councillor’s allowance, that makes it £21,000 and in the case of the Deputy Mayor £18,200.

“A member of our Technical Services is taking home £15,000 a year which is a weekly income of £220 and that includes overtime to feed, clothe and look after a family.

“I think it’s silly that we are sitting here looking to reduce costs across every department and yet we are talking about increasing payments to councillors.

“I appreciate the work the Mayor does is exceptional and she has carried out 463 engagements already, however, I think that it is exceptionally wrong for this to come to council at this time.”

Councillor Duddy said that he wasn’t comparing the work of the Mayor with a technical worker adding: “But I think this is bringing an inequality to the council structure.”

Councillor Cara McShane added: “I think it is embarrassing that we have spent so long on an issue regarding money for ourselves instead of those which affect the people out there.”

The decision to allow the increases will now go forward to full council for ratification.