ALL 16 WELSHPOOL Town Councillors have refused to take allowances that they could be entitled to under new rules that are under consideration.
The Independent Remuneration Panel For Wales will be meeting on December 14 to decide whether to go ahead with a scheme that would see town and community councillors given allowances to cover their expenses, of £150 and up to £500 for those with special responsibility.
.In Welshpool it’s the £403 a month carer’s allowance under consideration that has caused a storm of protest.
For the last two months Welshpool Town Council have been in communication with the Remuneration Panel to get clarification over “Determination 50” which is about the carers allowance.
They believe the decision could be imposed on Town and Community Council which could cause huge problems to their finances.
Councillors have voted against receiving the allowances, but needed to write an official letter stating that they woun’t take the allowance.
In this backdrop, the council have also been working to set next years budget, wondering if there is a need to set aside, £77,000 for a worst case scenario, if all councillors chose to claim the maximum allowance..
Town clerk, Robert Robinson had been asked to seek legal advice on the issue.
Mr Robinson, said: “There was no need to go to a solicitor for legal advice.
“Under the 2011 Local Government Wales Measure they are acting perfectly within the law.
“What I would like to say is if they are going to do this – they should pick a time when councils are not discussing their budgets and have to make provision in the budget for this possibility of these allowances being claimed.”
A letter by John Bader, chairman of the independent remuneration panel for Wales to Welshpool Town Council stated:
“The timing of the Panel’s Annual Report is set in legislateion and we do not have the power to vary this to accommodate budget setting.
“I believe that your council has a membership of 16, so you might make an assessment of the number of members who would benefit from our draft proposals.
“In one email you have suggested that you would have to budget £77,000 for reimbursment of cost of care.
“I am sure you do not seriously believe that all 16 members would be seeking to utilise this every month for the whole year.
“It is part of our framework to ensure that members who have caring responsibilities are able to participate fully in the democratic role without financial penalty.”
If the motions are passed then they would come into force in February, 2018.