Mayoral pay review panel's independence questioned

A Leicester city councillor has questioned the independence of a panel that has recommended a £44,000-a-year pay rise for the city's mayor.

Conservative Ross Grant said some panel members had vested interests as they worked closely with Sir Peter Soulsby.

The remuneration panel says the Labour mayor should earn £100,000 a year.

Panel chairman Martin Traynor, of the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, said the members were not political and "very much independent".

Decision delayed

Sir Peter, who is Leicester's first directly-elected mayor, said the issue would be decided by the council after a period of public debate - probably in January.

He currently earns £56,000 a year and, under the recommendations, that would increase to £100,000.

Deputy mayor Rory Palmer would see his salary rise from £34,000 to £75,000 and assistant mayors would also get a pay increase.

The panel recommendations had originally been placed on the council agenda for next week.

"It was very clear to me that there was no way councillors should be bounced into taking a decision on this in barely a week," Sir Peter said.

"It is something the public needs to have access to and we can have a debate about and for that reason I've taken it off the agenda."

The panel also includes Dominic Shellard, vice chancellor of De Montfort University; businessman Mike Kapur and Pat Zadora, who works in the charity sector in Derbyshire.

'Very conscious'

Mr Grant said: "I don't want to malign the members of the committee but all of them, in the back of their mind, will have it in place that they have to work with the city mayor.

"If you're the head person of the chamber of commerce or De Montfort University there is so much that you cannot do in this city now without his assistance."

But Mr Traynor said: "We wanted somebody on the panel from the voluntary sector but we were very conscious that a lot of the voluntary sector are directly funded by the city council… so that is why we picked our colleague Pat Zadora from Derbyshire."

He said the panel had looked at the 10 mayoral systems in the UK and others outside the country.

Sir Peter campaigned on a platform to review the role of the city's chief executive and the post was scrapped in August, resulting in savings of £175,000 a year.

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