The Welsh Government is said to be considering proposals to reduce the number of councillors in Wales – whilst increasing pay by around 60% - to keep local Labour colleagues on board with wider local government reform.
The allegations come following discussions held between Labour Party members in Swansea. A source has revealed that one idea being discussed would be to halve the number of councillors in merged areas, and increase their pay by 62% - from £13,600 to around £22,000 per year.
Shadow Local Government Secretary, Janet Finch-Saunders, said the proposals amounted to a “bung”.
For those Councillors who stand down or lose their seats in such a reorganisation, the alleged proposal would be to pay those councillors who would lose their seats, based on years of service – around £500 per year. This would mean a lump-sum pay-off of £10,000 for a councillor who has served 20 years.
“It is clear that such discussions would only be made to try to sweeten the deal for elected members – and this essentially amounts to a bung.
“The Cabinet Secretary denies such discussions have ever taken place, but I would urge him to speak further with his party members – who clearly have considerable concerns about the future make-up of local government, and want to ensure that they lose out as little as possible from his reform proposals.
“The widespread opposition from councils across the political spectrum to the Cabinet Secretary’s green paper proposals would lead many to hope that he will ditch these – as so many others have in the past.
“Certainly, to ensure that the Welsh Labour Government is on board with sector thinking a far better thought-out and costed model must be put on the table than the current arbitrary proposals. Reform must not be top-down, but should follow effective engagement across this level of governance and all areas of public service delivery to ensure meaningful, whole-scale reform.”