No decision yet over mayor’s payments

Stuart Drummond
Stuart Drummond

NO date has yet been set for an independent panel 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) is looking into the issue after Councillor Ray Wells (pictured) called for a review of the mayor’s special responsibility allowance.

Coun Ray Wells

Coun Ray Wells

It is being looked at after Coun Wells questioned whether it was possible for him to carry out two roles at the same time.

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He 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.

The mayor collects 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 council’s chief finance officer, Chris Little, has emailed all councillors regarding the IRP, which is chaired by John Taylor.

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

It has also been asked to look at what impact reducing the number of councillors from 47 to 33 will have on the basic allowance.

In the email, Mr Little said: “In relation to the mayoral special responsibility, the chair of the IRP has indicated that the panel will consider this issue as requested. 

“He has initially indicated that the mayoral SRA is a payment to reflect the specific responsibilities for the mayor and this payment is not necessarily affected by a position the mayor may have outside the council, which is the same position as other members who may sit on the fire or police authorities.  

“The IRP panel will formally consider this issue and report its finding back to the council.”

Coun Wells has hit out at the content of the email, but council bosses have stressed it is up to the panel to decide how they deal with the matter.

The Conservative group leader said: “After receiving the email from the chief finance officer I was bewildered and disappointed that the chair of the IRP could have formed an opinion so early on without having the relevant facts to hand.

“I would hope that the similarities between elected members serving on the police and fire authority and the mayor taking on the position of chair of the police authority, a full-time job, are quashed.

“It is morally wrong to pay the same person twice for the same hours work.”

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

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

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

“No date has been set for the meeting and it is for the panel to determine the time scale and how they want to deal with these requests.

“All councillors have been informed of the current position and any recommendations put forward by the panel will be considered at a future meeting of the full council.”

Mayor Drummond did not wish to comment.