Worthing councillor makes case for change...and £25,000 salary

Councillor Bob Smytherman
Councillor Bob Smytherman

WEST Sussex should switch to a unitary authority structure and increase councillor pay to account for greater responsibility – by more than double current allowances.

Worthing county councillor Bob Smytherman believes councillors under a unitary structure should have their own budget to ‘make a real difference’ in their area.

He said: “£25,000 a year is about the average salary for jobs in the south east. That would probably be my starter for ten.

“You would have responsibility for your own patch and budget. It should be decided by an independent remuneration panel.”

Borough and district councillors in West Sussex are entitled to annual allowances of around £4,500 per year.

The basic allowance for a county councillor is £11,251.

Those with special positions, like leader, are entitled to more, with West Sussex County Council leader able to claim just over £31,000 a year.

On a unitary level, members of the country’s largest authority, Cornwall, can claim allowances of £12,249. Birmingham City councillors, meanwhile, have a basic allowance of £16,000.

Mr Smytherman said: “There are a lot of councillors who are probably cannon fodder, who will not want to have responsibility for a budget for their local area and a lot of councillors probably quite like being cannon fodder to be honest,” he said.

“That is fine and they probably wouldn’t put themselves forward for election.

“You would be wanting good-quality councillors who want power and responsibility to make a real difference for their communities.”

Worthing Borough Council Conservative backbencher Edward Crouch said the idea of such a rise was ‘bonkers’.

He added he was not in favour of costly reorganisations unless there is a clear business case and strong public support.

See this week’s special investigation on the issue by clicking here.

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