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Councillor explains 20% pay rise vote

Councillor Jonathan Smith has explained why he voted in favour of a 20% increase in Members' basic pay.

At March 22nd's Full Council meeting, Members approved a recommendation from a local government expert that their basic allowance should increase from £3,489 per year to £4,209 from April 1, 2018.

Cllr Smith, who represents St Martin's, said he feels "very passionately" that being a Councillor should be attainable to as many people as possible.

He told This is Scilly: "Councillors receive an allowance to support them financially in carrying out their duties for the Council. This is meant to cover time they cannot carry out paid work, as well as costs of working from home - broadband, phone, heating, etc. The current allowance is derived from a calculation made in 2006, valuing time at £78 per day, equating to £3,489 per year.

"However I believe that to do Councillor duties properly requires at least 10 hours per week, and there are some weeks where you find yourself doing far more than that. For example, to attend just one meeting on St Mary's, from an off island, takes up half a day which you therefore can't work. The hourly rate is therefore much more like £10 per hour in reality.

"I believe this to be reasonable given the skills necessary and responsibilities we are given. If we as a Council are to attract and retain a diversity of people as Councillors - in age, background and experiences - we have to enable people of working age and with dependants the financial ability to do the role. I feel very passionately that we need to be more representative, and that serving the community by being a Councillor should be seen as attainable by anyone who cares about our community here on Scilly."

He added: "For this reason, and the fact that the role has been underpaid for years, I voted to increase the allowance. I know there will be those who will say we have awarded ourselves a pay increase of 20%, when the Council is strapped for cash. They are entitled to that view and I can see how that can be arrived at. However, I would say that most of us Councillors work hard and go beyond the basic requirements to make this community a better place. Giving up paid work to do the role therefore requires that Councillors should be remunerated at a reasonable rate, and that's why I think this is the correct decision now and for the future."

March 22nd's Council meeting can be viewed on YouTube here.


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