As a former lecturer in government and as a councillor for 33 years I feel that I should comment on the proposed allowances for councillors. There is no justification for any increase. In fact a comparison with councillors with similar responsibilities in England would suggest that NI councillors are significantly overpaid. In my submission to the Councillors Remuneration Panel I make the following points:
- The councillors role has been greatly reduced since setting up of Assembly-local party offices deal with most of the queries/problems previously dealt with by councillors.
- New Powers transferred to Councils despite grossly inflated claims are in fact minimal The main traditional local authority services such as Roads, Housing, social services , education ,libraries and youth services remain centrally controlled by Executive or Boards (apart from planning nothing significant has been transferred).P.S I do not believe there is any possibility of planning being fully transferred by April 2015 as I said in Assembly on a number of occasions.
- Councillors role is mainly attending one meeting a week
- Role cannot be compared to Scotland / Wales where Councils have full powers over education, housing, social services, roads, youth services.
- The role and powers of the new councils are similar to but less than those exercised by English second tier local authorities e.g. Arun, Adur, Ashford etc all of which have members allowances below £5000