A VOTE for a Denbighshire councillor to get an extra £40,000 has been branded as “snouts in a trough”.
Plaid Cymru AM, Llyr Gruffydd has condemned Denbighshire councillors’ vote for Labour group leader, Joan Butterfield to have a 65 per cent increase on her allowance for additional responsibilities, saying it is a slap in the face for council workers facing job cuts, pay freezes and service pressures.
Councillors voted for the leader, Joan Butterfield to receive an additional allowance of £8,000 a year for the next five years, on top of the basic allowance of £13,000 a year.
“To many people it looks like snouts in the trough for certain favoured councillors while council services face cuts and council workers face pay freezes,” said Mr Gruffydd.
“I challenge the opposition group leader to follow the example shown by Plaid’s Assembly group leader Leanne Wood when she refused to take a £20,000 pay increase.
“The £40,000 that would be saved could then be put towards essential services that will benefit people in the area,” added Mr Gruffydd.
82 members of staff from Denbighshire County Council were made redundant due to council cuts since the 2010 General Election.
“Plaid Cymru councillors proposed at the meeting of the full council that there should be no additional allowances paid due to the pressures on council funds,” said Mr Gruffydd.
“This was voted down by an unholy alliance of independents and Labour councillors, who seem more interested in feathering their own nests than ensuring the best service
for the people of Denbighshire,” he added.
Cllr Butterfield’s basic allowance of around £13,000 and the senior responsibility allowance will raise her salary to £21,910 a year.
This will equate to £109,550 during her five year term.
The opposition leader last term was also voted to have a senior responsibility allowance and was paid £21,334 a year in total.
“The council is able to pay up to 17 senior salaries. The council is in fact only paying 15,” said a Denbighshire spokesman.
“This year, as the council is bound to implement the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel, those members who are entitled to receive what is now defined as a senior salary, now receive one senior salary which in Cllr Butterfield's case equates to a total of £21,910.
“Neither Cllr Butterfield nor any other senior salary recipient will receive a basic salary on top of their senior salary, the senior salary is the amount that will be paid to them,” added the spokesman.
This senior salary is only paid to the party in opposition and only if they have not taken up cabinet posts.
“They were offered a seat on the cabinet, and I know the council leader would have liked a cabinet with all parties on but they refused,” said Martyn Holland, Conservative county councillor for Llanarmon-yn-Iâl and Llandegla.
“The Conservative group proposed at the meeting nobody should have a raise or take the money because it can be used for better things.
“This is where we could have made a saving, I know council workers pay has been frozen for some time, so no one should not accept any pay rise.,” added Cllr Holland.
This vote came after Labour decided to stay in opposition and not become the ruling party, which was their entitlement with the largest number of seats.
“Council members voted with advice from the remuneration panel,” said Hugh Evans, the leader of Denbighshire County Council.
The vote went 25 in support and 17 against the senior salary.
“I'm sure that local residents will be very disappointed by the Labour leader's decision - especially at a time when many households are struggling to pay their bills,” said Clwyd West AM, Darren Millar.
“The decision is also a kick in the teeth to those council employees who have faced pay freezes as a result of her party's mismanagement of public finances,” he added.
This week Cllr Butterfield would only say: “All the leaders of political parties receive remuneration.
“It is no different to what leaders received on the council before.”