Councillors face new rules on allowances – how much is your councillor worth to you?

An independent panel has put forward a plan which could see some councillors on Richmondshire District Council receiving less from the public purse.

Currently each councillor is entitled to a flat rate allowance of £3,000 then that is topped up with allowances for taking on specific responsibilities as well as expenses for costs incurred such as meals and mileage.

But an Independent Remuneration Panel made up of people appointed to look at the way the authority rewards its councillors has suggested changes which would increase the basic allowance but restrict other expenses.

The most controversial of the changes is to remove the allowance of £14.99 per month for broadband access. A suggestion which has angered some councillors because they are required to access all official documents using their council issued ipads.

You can see their full discussion on the suggestion – described by one of the councillors as ‘tawdry’ – in this video from the meeting.

The councillors failed to agree on the panel’s recommendations at the last full council meeting of 2016 and so the issue will be considered again in February.

In the meantime, we took a look at the amount each is currently claiming.

The highest level of allowance and expenses goes to the Conservative leader of the council Yvonne Peacock who received £10,148.53 in the last year that figures have been published for.

The councillor who received the smallest amount of money in the financial year 2015-16 was Catterick’s Simon Young. He received just £299.47 but was only elected to the seat in February 2016.

The Richmond ward councillors were rewarded in that financial year (2015-16) as follows:
Linda Curren 3,903.87
Louise Dickens 1,766.75 (elected in Sept 2015)
Stuart Parsons 3,225.90
John Robinson 4,954.44
Clive World 3,260.53

The full list of councillors and the expenses received can be seen here .(Those councillors without details of ward or party are no longer serving on the Council.)

* Please note, the figures relate to Richmondshire District Council only. Some councillors also sit on North Yorkshire County Council, or other bodies, and so could also receive allowances and expenses from those authorities separately.

Richmond MP’s expenses and interests

MPs expenses and interests are coming under greater scrutiny this week after Prime Minister David Cameron and others published details about their tax situation in a bid to fend off criticism following the release of the Panama Papers.

Whether Richmond MP Rishi Sunak will be one of those who makes his tax return public is not yet known but the publicly available information shows just one item on his register of interests – a flat in London which is worth more than £100,000.

He has yet to file any expenses since taking office. Annual expenditure will be detailed in September at the independent body set up to monitor it here.

Mapped: How much your local councillor costs

The latest figures which show how much Richmondshire District councillors claimed in expenses and allowances have just been published.

To see how much your councillor received, click on the red dot nearest to you.

In Richmond, the six ward councillors added up to:
Linda Curran, independent: £3,226.12
Muriel Blythman, conservative: £3,304.27
Russell Lord, independent: £3,668.74
Stuart Parsons, independent: £3,994.38
John Robinson, lib dem: £4,560.16
Clive World, lib dem: £5,795.24

Please note that these figures only relate to the district council. Some councillors also serve at North Yorkshire County Council or a parish council such as Richmond Town and so could receive additional funds via those authorities.

You can access the full data set for the district councillors expenses here. The figures cover the financial year 2012-13. The Richmond ward councillors are highlighted in green. We’ve popped it into the Richmond data store too.

Most viewed in April: Meeting of the full council – Live updates

The report was created in short live updates from Sarah Hartley which we’ve recreated here in one complete posting in reverse chronological order to make it easier to read through. Decisions made included the councillors expenses for this financial year.

Here at Swale House for the meeting of the full council. Although decisions will have been largely made before items reach the full council, tonight is a chance for some of the pomp of office with the chairman in his chains.

The meeting has started with prayers for people who are homeless and those who work to care for them.
Updates to this posting will be made in chronological order so the most recent item appears at the top of the page.

First item on the agenda is a presentation to Nick Millen OBE who has been based here for five years – longer than any other of his army postings. Chairman, councillor World is praising him for his involvement in the local community and efforts to integrate the Garrison with the town.
Millen says the very positive dialogue with the MoD has built on work done on the ground locally. He’s also urging people to vote on the development of Catterick Garrison and engage in the process.

I’ve just been welcomed to the meeting. Am the only member of the public/press here but it’s nice to be acknowledged I guess. Deputy leader is reporting back to the council from his meeting in Leeds with Welcome to Yorkshire where he learned that the filming of the Tour De France will have several hours a day which isn’t cycling related and can be used to feature local stories in the area.
Councillor Linda Curran has raised the issue of press releases and feels that they are not giving a good reflection of the work the council has been doing in terms if flooding. She also says the dog fouling sticks are being removed by the Street Scene cleaning people so the campaign is not having the impact it could have had.

Deputy leader Mick Griffiths has responded to say he was featured in the TV report because the local councillor was not available at the time but gave him credit for his work and that he hasn’t been involved in the dog fouling press release.

Councillor Griffiths has spent a little time spelling out the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner and has offered to contact her because members would like to hear more about her plans for community safety. ” There’s a lot of difference to turning up at meetings and doing a power point to delivering” he says.

Now is the point in the meeting when the councillors talk about their own pay – or rather allowances as no salaries are paid to councillors. They are all looking to receive a basic payment of £2,950 each for the year. On top of that come payments depending on what positions they hold. The leader of the council, currently John Blackie receives the most – an additional £5,310, the deputy Mick Griffiths an additional £2,655. They have also estimated the council’s travel costs will be £10,570.
The total budget for their allowances is expected to be £134,385 for the year.

Councillor Blackie has asked to speak and wants a protocol on who seconds the allowances. The vote was carried.

Next and last item on the agenda is the naming of the new council building. It’s a free vote, says councillor Blackie, no party whip. The favourite is Mercury which relates to the bridge near the station and the army signals corp. He likes the idea as it relates to communication, to listening to the community and not just broadcasting out.
Councilor speaking on behalf of another councillor is against the name Mercury House because it sounds ‘like a dodgy bank’.
Councillor Johnson says the council has been in Swale House for a long time. He is concerned that as a council and a district council they reach out to the whole district so it would be good to keep the name Swale. He would like members to give though to maintaining Swale House instead of Mercury House.
Councillor Curran says Mercury House doesn’t give a close enough link to the military. She came across a photograph of a councillor signing up to the military covenant. She would like to see it called Covenant House both for the military and the covenant with the community. She would prefer Swale House and that would cut costs on letterheads too.

Councillor Griffiths has asked them to respect the process whereby 60 people put forward the names they are being asked to consider and not to set that aside with other suggestions.
Blackie wrapping up now “this is a new start, a one-stop shop. Come on let’s go with it.” It is carried but there were votes against.

The meeting is now finished. Lower School will be known in the future as Mercury House. To read through all the updates from the council meeting, they are in chronological order so the entry at the top is the most recent.