Last night a Liberal Democrat challenge gave the Conservatives an opportunity to rethink their decision to pay £6,095 a year to each of six councillors acting as Directors on Council owned companies. The Lib Dems are disappointed but not surprised that Tory party loyalty won out as all bar one Conservative voted to use council money to pay their colleagues more.
The Liberal Democrats do not think councillors should be paid for these Non Executive Director roles. Other councils have set up private companies to provide similar services and none of the examples given at the meeting showed those councillors being paid as directors.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris, Twyford ward, said “There was no process for this decision to pay councillors more; it was made on a whim by Conservatives. They claimed at the meeting they are underappreciated and undervalued. I think it’s the residents of Wokingham being undervalued when their council tax is spent in this way. At the meeting the Tories said £36,000 was of little account and they easily found it to pay themselves more. Strange they can’t find money so easily to pay for services residents actually want.”
Cllr Prue Bray leader of the Lib Dems said, “As with the bins, the Tories have introduced this with no consultation, no process and an apparent disregard for their residents. These are tough economic times and everyone is feeling the pinch. Councillors should be working hard for their residents and not whinging about being underpaid.”
The Lib Dems, in making this challenge to the Executive’s decision, have managed to get the Tories to agree to some sensible changes. The meeting recommended a review of the process used to appoint councillors as directors and that an independent body should look at how much they are paid.
The Lib Dems believe it is important to remember the council is spending tax payer’s money. So we will continue to challenge the Tories and hold them to account when they are clearly not acting in the best interests of Wokingham’s council tax payers.
For reference: Benchmarking of remuneration to Non Executive Directors of Local Authority Trading Companies.
|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|
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|