LETTER SPECIAL: Wakefield Council salaries

10th Febuary 2011.'Wakefield Town Hall'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE
10th Febuary 2011.'Wakefield Town Hall'Picture: MATTHEW PAGE

I must applaud Judy Goodwin (Express, November 27) for her stance on top tier council salaries.

Why local council chiefs need to be paid such exorbitant amounts of money is beyond me. The Prime Minister of this country has a wage far below most of these council staff and has far more responsibility than any of them. It is high time that salaries were capped. Judy suggests £60,000 - I don’t see that happening but any move to reduce the current drain on resources must be a move in the right direction.

If we can call a halt to all these golden handshakes and farewells we, as the electorate, will feel that our local councils are just as interested in serving us as themselves.

Michael R Brook

Hollin Drive, Durkar

I was really pleased to read the letters in the Express on November 27.

I thought I was the only one who saw that councillors are grossly overpaid and that their own expenses are not justified.

I was staggered when I looked at the council web site and saw that the tax payer pays these people more than £1.3 million pounds in expenses and allowances every year.

Especially when services are under threat by cut backs and the councillors have never attempted to reduce their personal costs to the public.

Even a goodwill gesture of say, a saving of two percent of their expenses has never been considered by the Labour councillors, they just keep on taking at our expense.

If you have ever been involved with councillors and observed their work you would find that they have very little influence in how the council manages our money. The hard work is done by the civil servants who then pass on reports to the council to say what can and cannot be done.

The councillors in the main are very poorly qualified, however, they are very clever in getting onto photographs at charity functions or the opening of a new facility that they have had very little involvement with at all. How they can justify their huge salaries is beyond belief.

We have the huge number of 63 councillors for Wakefield, a ridiculous three councillors per small ward, but no councillor is going to admit that and try to reduce the numbers because there would be a bit of work involved and it is not in their interests.

Bill Tampin

St Michaels Avenue, Pontefract

In a letter printed last week Dr Andrew Rollinson referred to councillors as having a £200,000 salary.

This is wholly inaccurate. Councillors do not receive any salary.

They are entitled to receive an allowance in accordance with the Members’ Allowances Scheme which is set out in the council’s constitution. The scheme was drawn up by an Independent Remuneration Panel whose purpose is to make recommendations to the authority about allowances to be paid to its elected members.

The essential elements of the council’s scheme are a basic allowance of just over £11,000, which is the same for each member and is intended to recognise the time devoted to their work in their representational and community leadership role, and a basic supplement in recognition of expenses incurred in carrying out their duties.

This includes travel expenses to cover the cost of attending meetings and events, telephone calls and other expenses incurred in running an office at home. The scheme also includes special responsibility allowances for those members of council who undertake certain extra duties and responsibilities additional to those of a ward councillor such as the leader or deputy leader of the council.

Wakefield Council follows exactly the same system of allowances and expenses for its elected members as every other council in England and is fully committed to being open and transparent. Details of the amounts that each councillor receives are regularly updated and can be found on the council website.

Judith Badger

Assistant chief executive of resources and governance for Wakefield Council