Allowance panel making progress

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond Picture by FRANK REID. IRN
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond Picture by FRANK REID. IRN

MEMBERS of an independent panel set up to examine the allowances of Mayor Stuart Drummond and councillors in Hartlepool say work is progressing well.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) was set up to look at the mayor’s allowances after his appointment as chairman of Cleveland Police Authority.

As well as examining the mayor’s allowances, the IRP is also looking at what impact reducing the number of councillors from 47 to 33 in the recent election will have on the basic allowance of £5,767.

Panel members say their current focus is on the basic and special responsibility allowances of councillors and will be gathering evidence over the coming weeks.

The IRP is a group of lay people assembled by the local authority to advise on levels of allowances.

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

John Taylor, chairman of the IRP, said: “The panel had a very productive meeting and we are focusing at the moment on the basic allowance and special responsibility allowances for councillors.

“Over the coming weeks we will be gathering evidence and exploring the roles and responsibilities of councillors under the new arrangements, which have seen the number of councillors reduce from 47 to 33.

“Another meeting is scheduled for August and I am sure we will need further meetings before putting forward our recommendations to the full council.”

The latest meeting took place on Thursday at the Civic Centre.

It was Conservative group leader Ray Wells who called for a review of the mayor’s special responsibility allowance.

Mayor Drummond picks up £19,940 for his police authority chairman’s commitments along with the £8,375 that all authority members receive on a yearly basis.

He receives a special responsibility allowance of £58,135 for his role as town mayor, as well as a basic allowance, which all councillors receive, of £5,767.

Mr Taylor has previously said the panel would wait to carry out the full review until after the all-out elections to give members the opportunity to assess what impact the shape of the new-look council may have on the role of councillors and the mayor.

Council bosses say it is up to the panel to determine the time scale of their work.