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6k pay rise for running council firms

Published: 3 Aug 2012 14:102 comments

A COUNCILLOR has hit out angrily at "disgraceful" Tory members running council-owned companies who will soon be pocketing more than £13,000 a year each.

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A COUNCILLOR has hit out angrily at "disgraceful" Tory members running council-owned companies who will soon be pocketing more than £13,000 a year each.

Lib Dem councillor Tom McCann, who represents Loddon ward, has voiced the anger of his party at the decision to pay councillors who are non-executive directors on three Wokingham Borough Council-owned companies an annual sum of £6,095 on top of their basic allowances, which means they are taking home £13,454.96 every year.

Cllr McCann said: "The decision has been taken by a tiny minority of councillors; this money could be used to fund services that have been cut, like public toilets or grass cutting.

"These Tory councillors appear to value themselves more than public services.

"The Lib Dems think it is a disgrace that Conservatives are putting their own pay first. We asked the executive not to make this decision and were ignored.

"We will challenge their decision and want to see it overturned."

The decision to pay Cllr Bob Pitts and Cllr Simon Weeks, directing social care company Optalis, Cllr David Chopping and Cllr Gary Cowan, at Wokingham Housing Ltd (WHL) and deputy mayor UllaKarin Clark and Cllr Alistair Auty at Wokingham Enterprises Ltd (WEL) was made at an executive meeting last Thursday.

But council leader David Lee - who is paid a total of £27,210 a year for his role - said: "We have three companies that have been set up to generate money so that we can continue to provide services.

"This is substantial work which comes with substantial risks they must take as directors, and if anyone thinks this can be done by volunteers, they have no idea what they are doing.

"If anyone thinks this money is excessive, they have no idea what business is."

Cllr Lee said: "We need to continue to provide services for children and vulnerable people. That is what I would be doing and that is what I have done as council leader.

"I am not interested in playing pretend politics. What really upsets me is that the Lib Dems sit on all of the main committees, they are not excluded, but this complaining and criticism stops achieving what people want.

"If anyone thinks that £6,095 a year is too much, what planet do they live on?"

But Robert Oxley, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "Councillors already receive significant allowances to perform their civic role.

"The huge increase in the money some of them take home sends out the wrong message to residents and council staff alike who are tightening their own belts. Even with supposed extra responsibilities, it's difficult to justify such a significant increase in pay."

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