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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Don't shoot the messenger

The Council salaries and expenses details for are all published (h/t Hebrides News) on the Comhairle website.

Let's try and have a rational debate about this, without kicking the Council, for the simple reason that the number of Councillors and their remuneration and expense rates is all governed by national agreements.

The Councillors have their own merits and demerits, but let us ignore all of that.

The basic wage bill for Councillors is £528,000 or just over £20 per person, annually. But that is not the full story. Omitted from the schedule is employers National Insurance at 12.8% - or another £67,000 to be added to the total bill.

Oh yes, and Councillors are entitled to a pension now, but if they are above pension age then they may not fall into that scheme. I guess 50% of the Councillors might qualify with employer contributions of 8% (if I remember correctly), so perhaps another £20,000. The Council can publish this information (in total) if my numbers are wrong (hint, hint!)

All of which takes the total base cost up to £615,000 or £25 per person annually.

With major cuts in public expenditure planned (and if the rumours are true then I have substantially underestimated the severity) and to be revealed later this month, I have to question whether we can justify and sustain 31 Councillors. Doing what, exactly? Especially post cuts. You could get 10 full time highly-skilled professionals for the price we currently pay.

Turkeys, Christmas, voting.


Self-sacrifice, showing an understanding of the public mood, and realism. (Safe in the knowledge that the law cannot easily or quickly be changed to change Councillor numbers until at least after the next elections)

Solidarity comrades?

But on to our MSPs, who also must accept and act on exactly the same principles of many fewer, but better paid representatives at every level, with higher public expectations and more accountability. It will be painful, especially for those who lose out, but politics is supposed to be abut public service, not self-service, and the bullet needs to be bitten.

Or will we end up with more Chiefs than Indians and a wringing of hands?


Anonymous said...

Public service went out the window when they started paying councillors. Self service came in as in help yourself to the public purse, there is no justification for having 31 councillors when a politburo of 9 will do. This council should be handed back to Inverness we seem to be sending all our patients our special needs kids and our brightest prospects there anyways. Run the Islands by a sub-committee.
OR get rid of the old farts and get some youth in there it seems at the moment if you are too old to teach or practice law/medicine/accountancy then become a councillor. Give the community councils the right to recall councillors and make them accountable to the electorate every three years.

Anonymous said...

Not only in Council are there old farts but the Labour Party tried to get us to vote for one. He thought kids should be bossed about and treated like lepers, just like in the Bridge Centre no visitors after 10 just like borstal. Stuff the councillors they run everything from the Health Board to Housing its always the same old farts calling the tune.

Anonymous said...

doesn't the council already have 10 highly skilled professionals in its management team??

Anonymous said...

Amanda Darling gets my Vote next time.
I wonder how many Cooncillors would stay if they weren't paid - like the members of Stornoway Trust for example who do it out of a sense of duty and community.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that we can get someone of Angus Campbell's calibre and acumen for a bit less than £1000 per week. Excellent Value for Money.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 8.32, great comment. How are you Kenny?

Anonymous said...

an unfortunate posting heading given the current news

Anonymous said...

Someone explain, with data, the massive variations in expenses, please? Quite a few of the councillors have claimed subsistence of less than 100 pounds for the year. While others have claimed several thousand pounds each.

Why? What is subsistence? How do these figures break down?

Anonymous said...

i like your thinking, however that line of thought could be extended, and you'd get a highly skilled professional Chief Exec for £110K, director of education for £110k, etc, etc. but no you can't or so it seems.

I have long said we are over represented in these Islands, 31 councilors, an MP, an MSP, list MSP, etc, etc. Value for money is attrocious.

Anonymous said...

It's the same old story with these guys...look after no. 1. There are a certain group of them who think THEY run this island.Same with businessmen in's like a wee cartel. I remember years ago a certain businessman who fought to keep a National company in the same business as himself from moving into Stornoway...who did he sell the company to when he guessed right..that very same company. They come up with the argument that we should support local businesses but who benefits...just that businessman and his family. When a national company move in with cheaper prices, we all benefit.

Flirty Gerty said...

I believe Councillors should be paid - just not at this kind of rates. They should be given an allowance like that of Health Board members - about £7,500 a year. Surely that's enough.

But on top of Angus' calculations about the on-costs he has forgotten the 'internal' Council costs of having 31 Councillors - i.e. a team of staff to look after them, write briefing papers for them, carry their bags on COSLA trips, book their travel and accommodation, work out and pay their travel claims, fix their IT equipment, replace their lost mobile phone....

Add this to the time-wasting effect of having 31 Councillors to debate the work of 15, and the democratic process of this Council makes places like North Korea look positively advanced.

We need to reduce the number of Councillors now - or we will end up as a sub-Committee of the Highland Council Rural Affairs Forum.

Anonymous said...

Am I right in saying that if you order this table by expenses you get Angus Campbell and The BW Fluffer at No.1 & 2 and am I then right in saying that neither of these were placed 1st in the Council Elections (in fact I think the BW Fluffer was 3rd). So what we have is 2 people we really didn't want representing us and costing the public the most, and for that matter wielding an alarming amount of power on these Islands.

Reduce the No. of Councillors and these 2 for a start can GTF.