Row over councillor’s Senior Responsibility Allowances reignites
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
A row over the number of Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA’s) senior councillors should receive reignited at a council meeting.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council on Thursday 25 November, council leader Cllr Nigel Daniels was again forced to defend members of his group who receive more than one senior salary.
The row broke out as councillors decided to reject a draft recommendation by the Independent Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) to increase their annual basic salary from £14,368 to £16,800 following next year’s elections.
It also follows criticism of a councillor receiving two senior salaries at a meeting in July.
At Thursday’s meeting, Labour group leader, Cllr Steve Thomas pointed out that Cllr John Hill, who is the chairman of the Regeneration Scrutiny Committee, is also a member of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
Cllr Thomas said: “I believe we are taking a moral standpoint on this report.
“I don’t think it’s right for one member to claim two SRAs, one as a chair and one as a member of the National Parks.”
Cllr Thomas also brought up the “stealth appointments” of two councillors to sit the Silent Valley board and receive a SRA and that there “isn’t enough transparency” around roles.
The two councillors on the Silent Valley Waste Services Ltd board are Cllrs Bob Summers and Martin Cook.
“I’ve not seen a single report on what they do,” said Cllr Thomas.
Cllr Hill said that when there issues were originally brought up there was a perception that the payments were against the rules and he had tried to correct that at a meeting if the Democratic Services committee earlie this month where the IRPW report was first discussed.
Cllr Hill said: “What I was trying to point out is that it wasn’t against the rules.”
Blaenau Gwent council leader Cllr Nigel Daniels said it was “unfortunate” that the report was being used for political reasons.
Cllr Daniels said: “There’s no lack of transparency as the appointments are made and approved by council every year.
“I’ve maintained that Cllr Hill is the best individual for that job as part of the stipulation is that the members of the national park should come from a ward that sits inside it, Brynmawr clearly does.
“On Silent Valley, council agreed unanimously to put two elected members on the board as directors, there’s no lack of transparency, nothing underhand.”
Cllr Thomas pointed out that several other councillors who had been on the Brecon Beacons NPA had not represented parts of Blaenau Gwent that are within the national park.
He asked whether having a ward inside the national park was a “pre-requisite of membership”.
Cllr Daniels said: “It’s strongly suggested that the representative should sit within the park.”
At the moment the basic salary for Blaenau Gwent councillors is £14,368, and senior salary payments are added to this:
Committee chairmen receive £23,161.
Executive/Cabinet members receive £27, 741.
Deputy council leaders receive £31,783
Council leaders will receive £44,921.
Two senior salaries of £8,793 are given to the councillors who are directors and sit on the Silent Valley Waste Services Ltd board.
Members of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA) that come from several local authorities receive a basic fo £4,053 a year.
The chairman and deputy chairman of the BBNPA as well as two committee chairmen receive an additional senior salary of £8,793.