Walsall Council votes in pay increase for members

Allowances for senior councillors in Walsall will go up after a controversial increase was approved.

The leader of the council, deputy leader and members of the decision-making cabinet will all see their pay go up from April. The move was passed at last night’s meeting of Walsall Council. Up to 50 members of Walsall Pensioners Convention held a protest outside the Council House prior to the meeting urging members not to approve the rise.

The five Liberal Democrats, Independents Paul and Chris Bott and Democratic Labour Party member Pete Smith all voted against the move, while the Labour group did not vote.

The increase follows a review by independent experts who said the rise would bring the authority in line with neighbouring councils and eliminate existing “major discrepancies”.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, council leader Mike Bird stressed the change in allowances was not for the individuals but for the posts.

“I have to say that with the council we have at the moment, which has no overall control, nobody can accuse us of voting for a particular individual to have an increase in special responsibility allowance,” he said.

He added that councillors dedicate a lot of time to their work. “I know what this council agrees tonight will not be popular out there,” he said. “It is not easy but when you do take on the administration of the council, you do have to take responsibility, the responsibility of taking decisions that are hard, sometimes extremely hard and quite tasteless to some people.”

Under the changes, the leader of the council would see his annual allowance go from £22,356 to £26,850 and the deputy leader, Adrian Andrew, would see an increase from £8,302 to £17,534 – some 111 per cent.

Cabinet members would receive £13,425, up from £8,302. Money would come from an underspend in the allowances budget for the past year.

Comments for: "Walsall Council votes in pay increase for members"

Martin Johnson

It wouldn't be so bad if Walsall was a shining example of anything.

As it is, childrens' services failed an Ofsted inspection, primary schools are among the wosrt in the country, heart disease, diabetes and pulmonary illnesses are at third-world levels and now adult social care is in crisis. If anything, councillors should be giving money back.

I don't see Bird offering any plans for improvement, just more money for the same shambling ineptitude.

Dave Law

It does make the phrase " we are all in it together" sound very hollow. I'm not surprised as they tried an allowance rise 12 months ago and amid considerable anger they backed down. As Martin Johnson points out public services in Walsall are very poor and perhaps Mr Bird would support performance related pay like many of us and thus if you don't perform you get diddly squat. Overall with many services cut to the bone only the greedy would accept a rise in allowances.

The Realist

In not aiming, for whatever obscure reason, at the real target, the Labour Party in Walsall has just shot itself in the head.

How on earth could they miss so badly? The Labour Party Press Release states Group opposition,but is qualified by a fear that it will happen anyway.

So what?

One target, one function. Its called opposition. After 10 years, it might be reasonable to think that this might have registered with those who purport to represent the massed throng.

It beggars belief!

The Realist

snoddy

The worst thing about this is they think they are worth it

Andrea Stanton

I am totally disgusted that our local councillors have passed this increase in allowances. At a time when services to the more vulnerable members of society are being hit by cut backs I am sorry to see such self helping behaviour from our elected representatives.

I hope they note that they are the elected representatives, as their jobs and perks of a well paid part time job are not going to be there if the electorate decide that enough is enough.

The amount that a single pensioner receives if they claim Pension Credit is around £140 a week - just over £7000 a year which is less than the allowance that the councillors got before this unwarranted increase.

So what will these overpaid part timers decide to waste our money on next, another Serco Education fiasco? Just how much did the last one cost us and how could that money have been better spent?

Bill

Most Walsall people will find this decision completely obscene, especially when so many council employees face redundancy in the present climate.

I agree with everything that those above had said. Walsall's public services are a complete mess, and people like Mike Bird and other officials need to take the responsibility for it.

Children's Services was branded as "inadequate" by Ofsted. As a result senior directors were forced to depart and leave the mess that created for others to clear up. Only a year or so before those same directors were eagerly accepting public honours!

Something serious has occurred in adult social care recently that has led to suspension of senior officials, yet as Walsall Council Tax payers we aren't allowed to know what has gone wrong apparently, even though we are the ones paying for the mess that Mike Bird, Paul Sheehan and other senior officials are actively still creating.

The decent hard working people of Walsall have had to put up with this nonsense for far too long, is it any wonder no one is prepared to vote when they see people like Mike Bird rewarding themselves out of our pockets why we lose our jobs?

These people need to remember that those that pay them are being made redundant and suffering as a result of the financial mess that banks and politicians created. They need to remember who’s money they are spending, it is not their own, it belongs to the good people of Walsall.

I call on Mike Bird and his colleagues who have voted for this to resign with immediate effect.

Jean

So much for 'All in this together' If only our income was so good.

A Walsall Resident

If our councillors are so very concerned that there are discrepancies between what they get paid and councillors at other local authorities are paid, then why don't they leave Walsall and stand for election elsewhere?

I agree with the above, if Walsall Council was being shown to be leading the way on providing top quality services to those it serves, this would be much easier for residents to stomach. Unfortunately it isn’t leading the way in any respect, therefore Mr Bird and his colleagues should solve the myriad problems we have before seeking increased reward.

If these people are comparing their pay to officials in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Sandwell etc, they need to remember that these administrations cover larger geographic areas and far greater numbers of people than Walsall MBC. For Walsall councillors to justify increases in pay for themselves on this basis, and under the current economic climate is quite wrong. These same officials are making council employees redundant daily!

I personally do not feel that anyone, in any occupation should be able to set the level of their own pay and rewards in this day and age. In a modern society this behaviour is completely unethical and leads to situations such as that we now face in Walsall.

akhtar

when was the last I met or saw my local council representatives, or when do any of us really see them other than when the local elections are coming. All I see is that the public is here to pay for the silly and stupid mistakes our dear representatives make, and are aloud to reward them selves for there mistakes. All politicians are the same no matter at what level.