Mayor’s cash in spotlight

Stuart Drummond

Stuart Drummond

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AN independent panel has met for the first time to examine Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond’s allowances after his appointment as chairman of Cleveland Police Authority.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) met to discuss the issue for the first time yesterday afternoon at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.

The meeting was not open to members of the public and council chiefs say it is the first in a series of meetings.

Although the meetings are being held behind closed doors, the findings and any recommendations will be published at a future full council meeting.

The IRP is looking into the issue along with councillors’ allowances.

Councillor Ray Wells called for a review of the mayor’s special responsibility allowance.

Coun Wells questioned whether it was possible for him to carry out both roles at the same time.

The Conservative group leader also expressed concern over the financial aspects of the position, which sees Mayor Drummond pick up £19,940 for his chairman’s commitments along with the £8,375 that all CPA members receive on a yearly basis.

Mayor Drummond receives a special responsibility allowance (SRA) of £58,135 for his role as town leader, as well as a basic allowance which all councillors receive of £5,767.

The IRP, which is chaired by John Taylor, is a group of lay people assembled by the local authority to advise on levels of allowances given to councillors.

At the same time the panel is also looking at what impact reducing the number of councillors from 47 to 33 in May will have on the basic allowance.

The all-out election is being held after sweeping changes from the Boundary Commission to reduce the number of councillors and wards from 17 to 11.

Council bosses say it is up to the panel to determine the time scale and how they want to deal with these requests.

A council spokesman said: “We contacted the chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel to request that a meeting be called to discuss the following issues:

l The impact of reducing the number of councillors from 47 to 33 in May 2012 on the basic allowance;

l The impact on the mayoral special responsibility allowance of the mayor currently taking on the role of chair of Cleveland Police Authority.

“Any recommendations put forward by the panel will be considered at a future meeting of the full council.”