I'll order party to vote against giving me pay rise, says Derby City Council leader Paul Bayliss
THE leader of Derby City Council says he will instruct his ruling Labour party to vote against proposals that could see him get a pay rise of up to £11,220.
Councillor Paul Bayliss currently receives just under £40,000 a year in allowances and says a 20% increase is not appropriate during the economic downturn.
But he added that council leaders did deserve salaries of £50,000.
Mr Bayliss said: "The leader of Derby City Council has been an undervalued position for some time.
"Certainly, I think the leader is worth £50,000 but I think, in the current climate, it would be wrong for the leader of the council to take a 20% increase in salary.
"But we need to be clear about laying down a marker that £50,000 is about the right amount."
The proposal that leaders of the council should get more cash has come from its seven-member Independent Remuneration Panel, made up of experts from the business, legal and human resources sectors.
Group chairman Ian Samways said his fellow members unanimously agreed the leader was "undervalued financially".
He said: "Any reasonable person who knows about local government would know that the leader's position is a full-time job. I remember one leader of the council once told me he believed that the position carried more power than an MP – and MPs get paid £70,000 or £80,000."
The panel's report says Mr Bayliss has had to "resign from other commitments" because of the amount of time the role takes up.
It says an increase in the leader's pay would not mean spending more taxpayers' money.
The £11,220 would instead be freed up from another proposal to halve allowances given to other councillors for being vice-chairmen of the authority's six commissions which scrutinise its plans.
Councillors are set to make a final decision on whether to change the current allowances and, if so, how much of the £11,220 the leader should get, at a meeting in May.
Mr Samways said the vice-chairmen were paid too much for the job they do.
He said: "It's only if the chairman is unavailable that they do anything extra beyond being a member of the commission."
Councillor Harvey Jennings, vice-chairman of the council's adults and public health scrutiny board, said a reduction to the allowance he received for the role would "not bother" him.
But he said: "It's difficult to persuade young professional people to become councillors if there's not a career progression. You're not going to do it unless people are remunerated properly."
He said that, if the £11,220 was to be saved, it should "go back into the public purse".
INTERNET USERS VOCAL
AFTER the Derby Telegraph first published how the Independent Remuneration Panel wanted the leader of the city council to get more money, online readers logged on to our website, thisisderbyshire.co.uk, to vent their frustration:
One, with the username crazygal, said they were unsure why the leader deserved a pay rise when council employees had not had one in years.
They said: "His [proposed] pay rise would be better spent on struggling departments or services."
OllyB1 sent a message to say "he should feel lucky his wages aren't performance-related".
User Coyote sarcastically added: "Let's take money off the sick and disabled ........... and waste it."
WillCroft3 said the up-to-£11,220 figure the leader could receive was "in itself, more than a year's wages for many people in this city".
And website user Derby_born said: "Take a pay cut, Mr Bayliss, just as you have effectively forced a cut in income for the poorest citizens of Derby."