Mr Perrin’s blog; “A Word in Your Ear”.
Should Councillors be on “Zero Hour” contracts?
I pose the question based upon over ten years of attending Full Council monthly meetings and from time to time Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings.
During those years, I have been struck by the fact that there is rarely a time when all 49 Councillors are present at Full Council Meetings or a full attendance by Members serving on various Committees.
It appears all that is needed to justify such absence is an “apology for absence”.
Thurrock Councillors receive a Basic Allowance of £8,670 based on 144 days minimum annual expected average input minus 48 days per year as a *Public Service Discount = 96 remunerated days per year = £93 per day.
There are positions which receive “Special Responsibility Allowances” (SRAs), they are:-
The **Leader of the Council:- £30,346. The Deputy Leader:- £15,605
Leaders of the Main Opposition Groups:- £17,340
Other Executive Members, such as Chairs and Vice Chairs of Committees’, also receive varying amounts of SRAs.
Whilst these amounts are paltry when compared to the salaries paid to the Chief Executive and other Senior Council Officers, I would point out that low paid workers work long hours, sometimes seven days a week, to be paid just the same amount as the basic allowance of £8,000 plus for a whole years’ work without the luxury of a Council remuneration being an addition to a well paid full time job.
Rather than seeking excuses for absence, Councillors should feel honour bound to make every effort to comply with the 144 days expected average input required of them.
It would be unfair of me to tar all Councillors with the same brush, but for those who, without good reason, absent themselves and shirk their Council responsibilities whilst still claiming Allowances, I consider it would not be unreasonable to place them on “Zero Hour” contracts, thus ensuring they were only remunerated for attendance and actual work done.
* The Public Service Discount is the element of a Members’ time that is not remunerated and is given freely as public service or pro bono publico.
**While there is no legal requirement for the Leader to be full time the post holders, regardless of whom they may be, are effectively prohibited from being able to earn an outside living by virtue of holding the Leader’s office.