Panel is set to look into allowances

AN independent panel to examine Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond’s allowances after his appointment as chairman of Cleveland Police Authority will meet later this month.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) is set to meet to discuss the issue for the first time on Tuesday, January 24.

The meeting is not open to members of the public and it is expected to be the first in a series of meetings.

The IRP is looking into the issue after Councillor Ray Wells called for a review of the mayor’s special responsibility allowance.

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

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 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.

It has also been asked to look 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.

A council spokesman has previously said the authority contacted the chair of the IRP to request that a meeting be held to discuss two 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.

It is up to the panel to decided the time scale and how they decide to deal with the matter.

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