The photograph is of Highland Council councillors. The Scottish government has recommended that they, along with other Scottish councillors, 'deserve a pay rise to reflect their workloads'. An elected councillor's basic salary is currently about £16,000 and the proposal is to increase it to £19,000.
Not only does the Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee's report suggest this absurd increase but it also proposes that the leaders of smaller councils salaries are put on a 'more even keel' with their counterparts in large authorities.
The recommendation proposes that council leaders in Glasgow and Edinburgh would receive £83,000 - up from around £52,000, with the heads of smaller authorities earning at least £44,000.
This fills me with disgust. Over the years I've known quite a few councillors and only one worked full-time while others continued to work full-time in well paid jobs yet protested at the number of hours they 'worked' because of their council duties. Once salaries were introduced a few gave up their full-time employment, although those who worked in the public sector continued because if their pension benefits.
An Army major receives a salary of £47,760 plus increments for service. There is no overtime in the military and no additional salary for chairing any committee. Some chair international meetings concerning our security yet they receive no extra. If they attend/chair meeting abroad they must travel second class. As from 1April any daily subsidence allowances are to be stopped.
No buffet lunches or teas for our military yet our councillors find it necessary.
According to the Herald 'the current pay freeze for councillors means any change would be unlikely for at least a year'. It should never happen. Councillors do not deserve more than they presently receive - and there are a few who deserve far less - yet the the committee's chairman said:
“We have had to look at councillors’ remuneration against an economic backcloth that has changed beyond recognition. We are suggesting the Government should consider our recommendations on pay alongside those of the Commission Report on Public Service Delivery to see if some of these recommendations could be self-financing.
“There are areas where we believe the Government should act sooner, namely remuneration to councillors serving on Aleos, councillors serving on joint boards and community justice authorities and councillors who are suspended from their duties.”
We must remember the pensions too. Is this what would happen in an independent Scotland? I've yet to see one of my local councillors effecting local issues and sometimes they do so to the contrary. The only matter in which my own councillor became involved was the lack of snow clearance in the car park which accesses the local Post Office - way back in December. It had been like an ice rink for weeks and hundreds complained. She told me there was nothing she could do as she was unable to move her own car because of the freezing weather yet she would try to contact someone by email. Three days later a plough and gritter cleared the car park although I was told it was not because of councillors' pressure but the behest of the company who owns the shop in which the Post Office is housed.
Being a councillor used to be a service from a few 'worthies' towards whole communities. None expected a remuneration except possibly the odd sandwich and cup of tea if they were on council business outwith standard working hours and any travel expense repaid.
It was an honour in those days. Now it is a career with financial reward featuring uppermost. I'm sure there are Scottish councillors who deserve their current salary but they are few and far between in this part of the country. None deserve salaries way above those of our military. I wonder who paid for the photograph of the Highland councillors. Do you think they passed the hat round?