The Head of Law and Regulation stated that this is a draft report, issued every year October/November time inviting Councillors to comment before it is published in January/February before it comes into force next May.
Members were reminded that they normally do not comment on how much the Remuneration Panel decides what the appropriate amount of payment is for Councillors.
They are re-basing the allowances, in the last few years there has been a relatively small inflationary allowance but now they are advising that the basic salaries have not kept pace with inflation over the last five years; so they are looking to re-base all of the allowances. Therefore the salaries for Members and Leaders will go up, senior salaries for Chairs of Committees and salaries for the Mayor will increase by a commensurate amount.
So it is more for if the Members of the panel have any comments to make to the Independent Remuneration Panel at this moment in time.
The Committee made the following comments:
· Councillor Giles acknowledged that it is tricky for the Members to comment on this in a sense, of public opinion in the role as politicians. It was mentioned that Members do not take all that they might be entitled to as they feel very aware of that. The independent assessment is very important and the comparisons that it takes within the community. When it comes out, how it is presented to the public is very important but stressed how important it is that it is an independent view that holds the weight.
· Councillor Watkins queried if the Committee Members could individually comment on the report.
The Head of Service responded that they should not, as it was sent to the Council for comment. The Council’s procedure for this would be for the Democratic Services Committee to collectively comment on the draft report. The Officer clarified that it is not a public consultation; as it is the IRP consulting with each of the Local Authorities in Wales. They can comment on it as a Council as is customary and within the remit of the Democratic Services Committee to formulate any comments at this stage.
· Councillor Watkins asked what the deadline is for making comments and could the Committee make comments.
In response, the Head of Law and Regulation confirmed the consultation has to be in sometime in November so confirmed this would be the last collective Committee meeting they can bring the report to.
· The Chair queried if the Committee thinks they work a three day week.
Members of the Committee agreed that they do a lot more than stated in the report.
Councillor Thomas stated that the Councillor roles certainly fall outside of normal working hours; an example was mentioned when a constituent rang a Councillor at 3am. The Member mentioned that those who are not Councillors, would be surprised at the innovative ways they find to give the service that Councillors provide within their role. They try their best to give services in their role.
Councillor Giles followed on from the previous comment which tied in with the discussion of attracting people into the role. To say three days does not give that flexibility that seems attractive. It is quite difficult as some weeks the workload is very busy but other weeks can be not as busy. Anything that sounds like an employment of certain days does not fit with the role as it is about the flexibility and being available.
The Member stressed that they acknowledged that Councillors are not an emergency service but mentioned caution in setting out the role to be a specific number of days.
· The Chair asked if the Council should make a representational net score for instance on the length of time worked on average.
The Head of Service responded by stating that they do not believe that the IRP is stating all Councillors work three days a week; they are using it as a base of what is appropriate for an allowance.
The Committee was advised that it is up to the Members if they wish to comment on that, on whether the analysis of a part time role is equivalent to a part time salary. The issue is that they have got to base the assessment of allowances on something.
The Officer mentioned that they could review on what the panel base a reasonable allowance and clarified that the IRP recognises that being a Councillor is a full time role, but the equivalent salary should be equivalent to a part time earning on an average salary basis.
· Councillor Giles expressed concern in terms of how the public could view the salary being based on part time work. The Member suggested that they look at the wording through the communications across to the public as they may not realise it is more work, because it is being based as part time work.
The Head of Service commented that this is something in terms of the messages that can be passed on to potential Councillors as discussed with the previous item. It is about getting information out on what it means to be a Councillor, not just because they are paid £16,000 under the impression that it is only a three-day job.
The Head of Service stated that the emphasis should be on communicating with people coming into the role to help their understanding about the responsibilities of being a Councillor rather than going back to the IRP suggesting they re-base their figures on something else.
The Committee confirmed they were happy with the Independent Remuneration Panel report.