Powys councillor's 'elitist' claim over pay rise opposition

Cllr Kath Roberts-Jones (left) and Cllr Amanda Jenner Image copyright Powys council
Image caption Councillor Kath Roberts-Jones, left, clashed with councillor Amanda Jenner over a pay rise for councillors

There is a risk only wealthy people could become councillors if pay rises are not accepted, it is claimed.

The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) recommended an increase of about £268 (2%) in councillors' basic salary, which would take it to £13,868.

Powys council members failed to agree with the rise, with Councillor Amanda Jenner labelling it "out of touch".

Councillor Kath Robert-Jones said inadequate pay could see less affluent people excluded from local democracy.

Monitoring officer Clive Pinney said councillors would not be voting to give themselves a pay rise, but rather "noting a pay rise awarded to you and members across the whole of Wales".

Mr Pinney added councillors could write to the head of finance to refuse it, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Ms Jenner, Conservative councillor for Trewern ward, told a council meeting: "I feel very uncomfortable given the current climate and rising council tax, that we're voting for a pay rise for the third year in a row.

"It feels inappropriate and out of touch."

Ms Roberts-Jones, independent member for Kerry, said councillors could decide to "take it or leave it".

"If we don't allow people to have some sort of allowances you are in danger of only getting the elite around the table and they will only be the wealthy," she said.

Following Thursday's meeting, Ms Jenner said she "could not understand" how her comments could be considered elitist.

The IRPW said councillors are paid a salary to "encourage those who would otherwise be deterred by the costs involved".

A vote did not achieve a majority in support of noting the pay rise. Councillors did vote to decide that 18 councillors would receive a senior salary.

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