Town and community councillors should not be called volunteers; Lyn Cadwalladar, the chief executive for One Voice Wales (OWV) has said. 

He also said that the relationship between town and community councils and local authorities is getting better.

OVW is the umbrella organisation that provides help and advice for town and community councils.

Mr Cadwallader, met members of Powys County Council (PCC) standards committee on Wednesday, February 12, and explained how OVW work.

Cllr Kath Roberts-Jones (Independent – Kerry) said: “It mustn't be forgotten that community councillors are volunteers.”

Mr Cadwallader disagreed: “This is personal hobby horse of mine, they are not volunteers, they haven’t been since 1972, they are the first tier of local government.

“They have to achieve exactly the same standards as a county councillor.”

Mr Cadwallader added that OVW had worked closely and lobbied The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales to ensure that community councillors could be paid for the work they do.

As funding to local authorities has been squeezed during the last decade, services such as leisure, public toilets and even day centres have been transferred from local authorities to town and  community councils to run.

Mr Cadwallader said: “There’s a horrible word that the sector doesn’t like using which is ‘professionalisation.’

“The reality is the sector is being asked and expected to do more.

“We are seeing more people going to community and town councils saying, we want to retain x service, y service or that asset.

“It’s a challenge for town and community councils and for us."

Mr Cadwallader added that he had to ensure that OVW were able to give the advice needed for its members and be able to meet the demand for those services.

Independent committee member, Huw Pattrick asked: “Could you comment on the relationship between OVW and principal authorities?”

Mr Cadwallader, answered: “It’s been mixed over the years, I had a 20 plus year career in local government and I know what the pressures are."

Mr Cadwallader said that he’d worked closely with the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) to build up relationships.

He added that in the past local authorities viewed OVW with suspicion, thinking that the body wanted to take funding away from them.

“Over time, we have encouraged more cooperation and we are in a different place, relationships are improving and we are welcomed with open arms,” said Mr Cadwallader.

Standards committee chairman and independent member Stephan Hays said: “It was very informative and I’m amazed at the amount you do."

In Wales there are 735 town and community councils.

Of those 630 are members of OVW.

Powys has 112 town and community councils and of those 90 or 81 per cent are members of OVW.