Wednesday 27 April 2016

Senior councillors' pay cut "banged on the head"

There is nothing quite so nauseating to the general public as watching a small bunch of overpaid, executive councillors, filled with a ridiculous and deeply mistaken sense of their own importance, bemoaning the fact that they're not paid enough money. Aided and abetted by a chief executive, with, some say, equally charming attributes.

This was the item at Monday's executive board meeting which took longer to mumble through than anything else on the agenda. After some self-congratulatory nonsense, mainly from Meryl over the decision to locate the new archives at the back of Carmarthen library, and a hasty trip through the overspends in the budget monitoring reports, the conversation then turned to the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales' (IRPW) recommendations over senior councillors' pay.

But back briefly to the archives and, whilst the plan is to be welcomed, it must be remembered that the sudden necessity to spend £2m (and £600,000 removing the mould) on the new archives whilst, with the other hand, cutting over £3.6m from this year's school budgets and offloading parks and playgrounds, has been a result of 15 years of neglect and lack of investment by County Hall itself. Had various campaigners, bloggers, and Friends of the Archives not dragged the matter up from it's mouldering grave then that's exactly where the irreplaceable history of Carmarthenshire would have stayed.

Having said that it was interesting to note that apparently the new archive was to become officially Accredited as a repository by 2017 which doesn't leave much time to build the thing. There was no hint of a time frame and the future management and the additional funding which will be required was still something of a mystery. But, according to Meryl, the priceless documents were all 'safe in their hands'....hopefully safer than other 'jewels in the crown'.

Anyway, as I've mentioned previously, the IRPW recommended a two tier system for senior councillors' pay with those with a lesser workload taking a 10% cut. However, the Panel left the final decision whether or not to implement this up to local authorities. In Carmarthenshire, the Democratic Services Committee decided not to bother.

Pam Palmer (Ind) was first up with the comments and was delighted to recommend that this silly idea be "banged on the head". It would have been 'divisive' she said and 'would have caused problems' (that's my arm-wrestling contest idea out the window then). The public just don't realise how hard they work..

Meryl (Ind) was up next questioning the independence of the Panel given that it was in receipt of a letter from ministers. Well, Meryl I guess it's probably as independent as the legal advice you were fed when rubber-stamping unlawful blank cheques to Mr James...though that didn't seem to bother anyone at the time. Why, she wondered, should AMs and MPs have pay rises and they didn't? Executive Board members had enormous responsibilities and did very important could they encourage 'quality' people once the current batch (of 'quality' people, I imagine she meant..humility not being one of Meryl's strong points) retired?

At this point the chief executive chipped in, agreeing with Meryl's lament and also questioning the independence of the Panel...a panel which also has a say in his generous salary.
How odd, there's us, the general public having to trust the 'independence' of regulatory bodies when there's a whitewash report, yet when a modest pay cut for senior elected members is on the cards the panel is suddenly in the pocket of Welsh Government.

Pam was further moved to comment and said that sometimes she had phone calls in the middle of the night, presumably when a natural disaster hit Abergwili, she didn't charge...but if your washing machine broke down you were charged a call out fee! It was all outrageous and so unfair!

Cllr Pam Palmer

So, as a reminder as to just how hard done by the executive board really are, Emlyn Dole is on £48,000, Pam Palmer and Dai Jenkins are on £31,250 apiece and the seven remaining members, including Meryl trouser £29,000 each. Plus expenses. Not, most of us would think, figures to be sniffed at, but sniffing they were.

However, I'm not arguing against the basic allowance and without a doubt the body of councillors needs to be more diverse. Younger people need to be encouraged to stand, but throwing more money into the pot is not the answer - one option, considered last year, to change meeting times to suit working people, also received a swift 'bang on the head'...

As for the executive board, once these coveted, well-paid positions are based on ability instead of the current criteria of brown-nosing Mr James, we might actually be getting something approaching 'quality'. We're all accustomed to this behaviour from Meryl and Pam, and indeed the previous Labour leadership, but for the Plaid executive to turn it into an art form was disappointing to say the least.


Anonymous said...

Great post! Really enjoyed it!
Maybe, rather than given pay increases, certain individuals could be banged on the head?
Put them out of our misery?

Anonymous said...

What exactly does 'grease my palmer' do then?

I lose count of the number of times we have had to call the out of ours Dr over the last 2 years, yet each and every one of them has been, kind, understanding, caring, patient and devoted to delivering the best care possible. When they are with us, like the paramedics there are no other issues, nothing needs their attention, its all focussed on the matter at hand, which recently included the very difficult decision of not resuscitating a close relative.

And what do they get paid? Not enough.

In light of the issues faced by the NHS where PROFESSIONALS are stating their case against the government these comments by palmer, grovel et al are so crass it only goes to demonstrate exactly how out of ouch with reality they are.

I even get calls in the middle of the night... Its called public office and comes wit the job you stupid woman. Where else in Carmarthenshire can you earn £31-48k with no qualifications?

Give me strength!

Unknown said...

I'm not an Carmarthenshire local but stumbled across your website. Have to congratulate you and all your followers for holding the Council to account with your blog. Sadly there isn't enough of this going on up and down the country.

My new blog covers the workings of councils across the council from a council (whistleblowing) officer's point of view so feel free to take a look/ get in touch. There is a piece on their about the cost of local democracy -

Anonymous said...

In my experience Cllr Palmer Cllr Jim Jones are some of the most obnoxious people within the Council. Absolutely full of thier own self importance and without the abilities to hold public office. I would like the Auditors to closely scrutinise what exactly the Councillors do and what they are paid for.

Cneifiwr said...

It may interest readers to know that Cllr Palmer is effectively a minister without portfolio - she is not responsible for any particular department, but has a ragbag of meaningless job titles, including - believe it or not - Youth Ambassador. Previous responsibilities have included "modernising" local democracy.

The irrelevance of her non-job can be seen from the official record of her "decisions". These meetings involve her sitting as a committee of one with a few council officers applying a rubber stamp to some report or other.

This year she has so far clocked up two meetings. Last year it was two, and the year before just one. These affairs are usually over in minutes, with the most recent conflab lasting all of 25 minutes.

Surely that's worth £31,250 of our money?

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. She is deluded if she thinks she is worthy of that kind of money.

Anonymous said...

She certainly is not worthy of that money. Her 'cv' on the councils page desperately tries to make her look important and qualified, yet those qualifications can be obtained in a day, less if you remove the coffee breaks.

She is a classic example of a sponger. Barely any qualifications and managed after 20 odd years to float to the top in the council, along with all the other flotsam. The £31,250 salary is completely unjustifiable. She really cannot claim to be qualified for the role. As a previous comment states, where in Carmarthenshire can someone with little or no qualifications earn this kind of money? £31,250 for what exactly? She has no qualifications yet somehow is paid this much? Madness.

She might be in the role, but there's an opportunity coming to clear this bunch of feckwits out. They need to go, all of them, from the top down. They are the most uninspired lazy self serving ignorant, pompous waste of oxygen I have come across in a long time.

Their actions and reputations need far more exposure to encourage the electorate to remove them and let them be in no doubt exactly why they are being voted out.

Redhead said...

Then start identifying independent or minority party candidates to stand in EVERY seat at election time. Get them to agree on a manifesto of main points they all agree on but with a total committment towards their lical patch. Help them, support them and vote for them. Otherwise all stays the same.

caebrwyn said...

I agree and that is the concept Sian Caiach's People First party is working on. Hopefully by next May's Council election many of these old lags will draw their council pensions and give up and we'll have some new, independently minded councillors. Meryl has said she will retire, hoping I'm sure to spend her twilight years with Sir Terry, the Swansea Bay board etc etc. What she might not realise is that she is only of any use to them, or anyone for that matter, whilst she is on the council acting as the democratic rubber stamp for Mark James, though we live in hope that he'll soon be gone as well, leaving the poisoned legacy behind him.

Adam Dare said...

Apart from a few meetings do they do anything else? These look like full time salaries. I realise it's nothing compared to what the Chief Exec. trousers.

Redhead said...

These people do not retire when taking obscene amounts of money to do nothing. EVERY council seat should be contested by independents and minority parties. They should be working on a joint manifesto NOW.
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