County councillors costing £845k

Taxpayers have shelled out a total of £845,657 for allowances and expenses for Worcestershire county councillors during the past financial year, figures have revealed.

Taxpayers have shelled out a total of £845,657 for allowances and expenses for Worcestershire county councillors during the past financial year, figures have revealed.

This is a five per cent rise on the previous year’s figure of £806,077 and a 14 per cent increase in the past three years.

But Councillor Stephen Clee, one of ten Wyre Forest members among the 57 on Worcestershire County Council, today said the costs represented “good value for money”.

Each member of the county authority gets a basic allowance of up to £9,019 with rates varying according to length of service and hours worked.

Extra payments for those with special responsibilities, such as chairing committees, added £300,000 overall to the county’s bill. And more than £36,000 was paid out for travel and subsistence fees.

The biggest claims for expenses was from council leader Dr George Lord, from Bromsgrove, who claimed a total of £43,099 including his basic allowance, special responsibilities payments and travel and subsistence.

The highest claiming member for Wyre Forest was Councillor Clee. He was paid £2,388.44 in travel and subsistence, plus £16,499.76 for special responsibility as cabinet member on top of his basic allowance, bringing his total to £27,908.

He said today: “An independent panel from the private sector come in and assess what councillors do and what they should be paid.

“They look at how many hours people put in, some of which is voluntarily in their own time. If people were not paid in some way we would never attract anyone to become members of local authorities. I personally think the taxpayers get a good return from elected members.

“In some ways the figures can be misleading because there are people who do not claim so much but who do not attend many meetings.

“I go to County Hall sometimes twice a day. There are elected members across the county that only went four or five times during the year but who still got paid the basic allowance.”

Councillor John Campion, who is also leader of Wyre Forest District Council, claimed a total of £10,442.18.

Councillor Marcus Hart claimed a total of £18,418.71.

Fellow Wyre Forest councillor Fran Oborski claimed a total of £9,553.45 and councillor Gordon Yarranton a total of £9,969.79.

Councillor Paul Mills claimed £8,982.56 and councillor Jill Fairbrother-Millis a total of £9.629.28.

Councillor Nigel Knowles claimed a total of £9,022.03, councillor Graham Ballinger, also from the Wyre Forest, a total of £18.276.13 and councillor John Holden £9,234.68.

The lowest claim was from Redditch councillor Juliet Brunner who claimed a total of £6,352.65.