Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Opinion: Why Paying Councillors To Act As Company Directors Is Wrong

by Anthony Vick

Wokingham's Conservatives have decided to pay councillors £6,095 for acting as Directors on Council owned companies, in addition to the Basic Allowance paid to Wokingham's Borough Councillors of £7,360 per annum (including allowances for IT, home office and out of pocket expenses not separately reimbursed).

Why shouldn't they have done this? I'll give you five reasons...


First of all, Councillor's pay is usually reviewed and recommended by an Independent Remuneration Panel, and the Conservatives have bypassed this important step and voted themselves – for I don't believe they'll be electing any non-Conservative councillors to these roles – a £6k pay increase if they act as non-executive directors on one of the Council's three companies (Optalis, WEL, Wokingham Housing LTD).

Secondly, these companies are providing core council services such as care for the elderly and disabled, housing, and land asset management. Why should ordinary
Councillors  be paid more than their basic allowance for overseeing core council services? Isn't this why they're elected? 

Thirdly, the Borough Council has shed or is in the process of shedding over 100 “posts”, it's frozen its employees pay, and is, as we all know, cutting services. So you'd think, perhaps, it's not the best time for Councillors to award themselves a new financial perk, wouldn't you?

Fourthly, there's simply no precedent for the Council to do this, other Councils simply don't seem to do this, look:



Local Authority
Trading
Company
Name
Councillor/Officer 
Non- Executives on Board?
Payment to Member Non-Executive Directors?
Essex County Council
Essex Cares
Yes- Councillors
No
Woking Borough Council
Thamesway Group
Yes - Officers and Members
No
Stockport
Metropolitan Borough Council
Solutions SK
Yes - two Councillors and one Officer
No
Kirklees Metropolitan Council
Kirklees Metropolitan Development Company
Yes - the directors are all Councillors
No
Barnet Borough Council
Barnet Group Ltd
Awaiting reply


Fifth and last point, there are six Conservative Councillors - Cllr Simon Weeks, Cllr David Chopping, Cllr Bob Pitts, Cllr Ulla-Karen Clarke, Cllr Alistair Auty and Cllr Gary Cowan – who now cumulatively cost the Council £36,000 more per annum. That's £36k which could be used for something else, perhaps paying for the re-introduction of dog bins along popular walkways and footpaths – like those used for the School run.

Notes:

1. Wokingham Liberal Democrat policy on this is simple: they don't think councillors should be paid for these non-executive director roles. Full stop.

2. You can read reports about this in the press here:-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-19371908
- http://www.getwokingham.co.uk/news/s/2119603_councillors_vote_for_6000_payments