Mayor’s views on Hartlepool’s new committee system ‘irrelevant’

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MAYOR Stuart Drummond said his opinion on the new committee system and allowances at Hartlepool Borough Council is “irrelevant”.

In May, the council’s system of governance is changing from the elected mayor model to a committee system, made up of of councillors.

Outgoing Mayor Drummond was asked by town man David Riddle whether he was “happy” that the new committee system and associated allowances represents “best value” during tough economical times.

Under the new system, the leader of the council will receive a special responsibility allowance (SRA) of £17,301 on top of the basic allowance, which will stay at £5,767 and that figure will only rise if council staff receive a pay increase.

Speaking at the full council meeting, Mayor Drummond said: “To be honest, it is irrelevant what I think now.

“I have made my views on the benefits of both system very clear.

“What I would say, is that I don’t think that councillors should be allowed to vote on their own allowances, it is a recipe for trouble.

“The government should take control and give every single councillor in the country the same allowance.”

He added that freezing the basic allowance wouldn’t make that “much difference” in terms of the savings that the council has to make.

Mr Riddle asked the Mayor’s view on the leader of the council’s allowance and said it was a lot more than the £3,200 allowance that the leader of the council took last time round under the old system.

Mayor Drummond said it was the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) that had recommended the plans.

It was agreed at the full council meeting to keep the basic allowance – received by all Hartlepool councillors – at £5,767.

Councillors backed an amendment put by the Labour Group to freeze the basic allowance and to only receive an annual increase when Hartlepool Council staff do.

Under the new system there will no longer be any need for the elected mayor’s allowance of £58,135 and the overall number of SRAs will drop from 19 to 12, meaning an annual saving of about £130,000 as the SRA are linked to the basic allowance.

Under the new system, the chair of council and chairs of the policy committees will all receive an SRA of £5,767.