Watton: ‘a working man gets no expenses’

Councillor Russell Watton.
Councillor Russell Watton.

A local PUP party leader says he has no interest in claiming expenses to perform his duties as a councillor on Causeway Coast and Glens District Council.

Figures obtained by the Coleraine Times show that Russell Watton received £210 as a Special Responsibility Allowance during the period of the shadow council from 2014-2015.

He was awarded that amount as party leader but revealed this week: “I didn’t keep the money myself I donated it to the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.”

Councillor Watton said had yet to claim 65p per mile in mileage expenses despite undertaking Council business in Ballymoney, Limavady anBallycastle.

He commented: “The ordinary working man doesn’t get mileage expenses to go to work so why should I claim them?”

Figures show that the 40 councillors who sat on the shadow council were awarded a basic allowance of £8,196.

On top of that party leaders were given a Special Responsibility Allowance which is shared out among party members.

The DUP’s John Finlay (£3,600) and George Duddy (£2,310) received the highest amounts while Darryl Wilson of the UUP got the lowest (£144).

Four councillors, including councillor Watton, claimed zero mileage - the others being Trevor Clarke, alan McClean and David Harding.

Councillors who claimed the highest mileage were Dermott Nicholl (899 miles), Margaret Ann McKillop (809) and Douglas Boyd (705).

The figures showed that the 40 councillors received £327,840 in basic allowances with 24 councillors getting £24,000 in Special Responsibility payments.

In total councillors made claims for mileage amounting to 12,661 miles. The shadow council ran from May 2014 to April this year.