COUNCILLORS allowances look set to be frozen.
Cabinet members will next week consider the proposal to freeze 69 Kirklees councillors basic allowances at £12,566.
Calderdale’s 51 members will also face a freeze of £9,931.
The only change for the 2013/14 members allowance budget relates to the new West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.
Kirklees and Calderdale each have two members on the Panel, which will scrutinise the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Yet councillors from Kirklees, Calderdale, Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield will be paid differently.
Kirklees has chosen to award members who sit on the Crime Panel £6,138, comparable to a council’s scrutiny chair allowance. Calderdale’s councillors will get zero for sitting on the same panel.
Other West Yorkshire authorities are: Leeds £11,716 three members, Bradford £11,500 three, and Wakefield £11,500 two.
However, there is expected to be a review in November when there is more clarity of what the role requires and to iron out any discrepancies.
If councillors chosen for the panel have another special responsibility they will not get this allowance.
Council-wide the Independent Review Panel has recommended leader of the Kirklees Council, Clr Mehboob Khan, receive £25,155 in addition to the basic allowance.
Last year he got additional allowances from other work, including £15,556 as chairman of the LGA’s safer stronger communities for the Local Government Association and £18,819 as chairman of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority.
Kirklees deputy leader, Clr David Sheard, gets £18,866 plus the basic.
Cabinet members – Clrs Jean Calvert, Cath Harris, Peter McBride, Peter O’Neill, Shabir Pandor, Cathy Scott, and Molly Walton – each receive £12,274 plus the basic.
Clr Robert Light, Conservative leader, gets £9,820 as opposition leader, plus £7,778 from the LGA.
Clr Kath Pinnock, leader of the Liberal Democrats, gets the same opposition leader rate and a further £2,593 from the LGA’s Children and Young People board.
In Calderdale Clr Tim Swift, leader of the authority, gets a leader’s allowance of £29,794 plus basic, and Clr Janet Battye, deputy leader, gets £14,897 plus basic.
Basic allowances are based on the population in each ward – Kirklees has on average 13,000 people per ward and Calderdale has around 9,000.
WHAT THE PARTY LEADERS THINK
Clr MEHBOOB KHAN, Labour and council leader, said: “It’s the third year our staff have had a freeze in their salaries so the Panel’s decision is something I agree with.
“The Kirklees basic is just over £12,000. In order to encourage greater diversity we need to have the remuneration to go with it.
“If we want young people in the early part of their careers to join the council we’ve got to financially support them.
“Otherwise we’ll have a council of career politicians or older, retired and wealthy people which doesn’t reflect the population.”
Clr Khan said he often spent 60 to 70 hours a week on council work.
He also said the allowance of the Police and Crime Panel was a “quirk of the system” and should be set at a West Yorkshire level.
Clr KATH PINNOCK, Liberal Democrat leader, said: “The freeze is undoubtedly the morally right thing to do. Councillors should suffer the same financial fate as everyone else in the public sector.”
She said hours spent on council work varied, adding: “It’s a huge amount of time.”
Clr Pinnock said the Police and Crime Panel figure was fair, adding: “Because it’s a new panel nobody really knows what time commitments will be needed, so the panel looked at what the chair of our own scrutiny committee gets and awarded the same.”
Clr ROBERT LIGHT, Conservative party leader: “The panel has made that recommendation and I am sure members will agree to it.
“The council has been facing massive cuts and a freeze for the last few years. It’s fair for members to face the same situation as staff.”
Clr Light said it was difficult to know how many hours he worked, adding: “It even varies from one week to the next. It’s certainly not a 9am to 5pm job.”
Clr Light said he doesn’t believe the payment for the members of the Police and Crime Panel is sustainable.
Clr ANDREW COOPER, Green Party and head of the Valley Independents Group, said: “I think it is the right thing to do. When we have staff having a freeze in their wages I think it is only right councillors should face the same.
“The situation would be viewed very dimly if councillors had an increase.”
Asked how many hours he works, Clr Cooper replied: “It can easily be 30 plus hours a week, and there’s no pattern to it. A lot of work is done at weekends, in the evening and then we get a lot of calls during the day.”
Clr Cooper questioned the £6,138 allowance for members of the Police and Crime Panel, saying: “Kirklees needs to meet this cost and it was decided it should be the equivalent of a chair of a scrutiny panel.
“I think it would have been better to go for the minimum and go to the government and say ‘this is your idea, you provide the funding’.”