£5,000 councillor payments rise

Councillors Michael Cook, Catriona Bhatia, David Parker and John Mitchell at the launch of their programme for local government in the Scottish Borders, 'Ambitious for the Borders 2012'
Councillors Michael Cook, Catriona Bhatia, David Parker and John Mitchell at the launch of their programme for local government in the Scottish Borders, 'Ambitious for the Borders 2012'
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Despite a fall in travel expense claims, the cost of paying and reimbursing Scottish Borders Council’s 34 elected members rose by nearly £5,000 in the last financial year.

A report to today’s full SBC meeting reveals that £757,172 was disbursed to councillors in the 12 months to March 31 – compared to £752,385 in 2013/14.

John Devlin 29/01/15. Money , cash , pound , sterling , notes  , pound coin , pound coins , debt , payment , notes ,  currency.

John Devlin 29/01/15. Money , cash , pound , sterling , notes , pound coin , pound coins , debt , payment , notes , currency.

The rise is largely down to a 1% pay increase implemented on April 1, 2014, which saw the annual wage of a backbench member go up to £16,560.

That rise, in accordance with Scotland-wide legislation, was also reflected in the salaries paid to those senior councillors with special responsibilities.

For instance, leader David Parker’s wage went up from £32,759 to £33,123, while his deputy John Mitchell picked up £24,842.

Nine councillors with “executive member” status saw their annual salaries go up to £22,442.

The upshot was that the total paid out in salaries in 2014/15 increased by over £11,000 – from £648,566 to £659,844.

Although the wage bill was up, claims for travel expenses fell over the year from £62,370 to £54,835, although today’s report cautions that this amount, based on actual journeys, is “expected to fluctuate” year on year because of the timing of claims.

Telephone and IT expenses, including the use of Blackberries and electronic tablets, rose from £35,885 to £37,067 while the cost of sending councillors to conferences and training courses topped £5,133 – down from £7,441 the previous year.

The council has admitted the annual 2014/15 report on allowances and expenses should have been published by June 1 in accordance with Scottish Government guidelines. “Publication…has been delayed as the information had not been finalised, but it is now complete and is being taken to the full council meeting closest to the June 1 deadline,” explained a council spokesperson.

“There is no penalty for late publication which was, in part, due to the general election.”

What your councillor cost last year
Renumeration and expenses paid out in 2014/15 (last year’s total in brackets)

»Sandy Aitchison (Borders Party, Galashiels & District, education) £27,120.97 (£26,458.15).

»Willie Archibald (SNP, Tweeddale West, convener of licensing board) £23,247.08 (£22,879.75).

»Michelle Ballantyne (Con, Selkirkshire, leader of opposition) £22,881.40 (£21,709.46).

»Stuart Bell (SNP, Tweeddale East, economic development) £25,382.97 (£25,256.23).

»Catriona Bhatia (Lib Dem, Tweeddale West, depute leader health services) £20,794.75 (£20,221.11).

»Jim Brown (SNP, Jedburgh & District, community planning/vice-convener) £25,610.25 (£25,377.64).

»Joan Campbell (SNP, East Berwickshire) £20,105.59 (£20,082.12).

»Keith Cockburn (Con, Tweeddale West, elected October 2013) £18,904.80 (£8,721.09).

»Michael Cook (Ind, East Berwickshire, HR & corporate improvement) £26,584.37 (£25,780.81).

»Alastair Cranston (SNP, Hawick & Denholm) £18,340.37 (£19,871.73).

»Vicky Davidson (Lib Dem, Selkirkshire, culture, sport, youth & communities) £24,913.77 (£26,258.28)

»Gordon Edgar (Ind, Selkirkshire, roads & infrastructure) £24,812.11 (£24,284.69).

»Jim Fullarton (Con, East Berwickshire) £19,962.08 (£19,309.96).

»Graham Garvie (Lib Dem, Tweeddale East, council convener) £28,864.91 (£28,922.19).

»Iain Gillespie (Borders Party, Leaderdale & Melrose) £19,318.60 (£16,782.46).

»John Greenwell (Con, Mid Berwickshire) £18,902.85 (£18,451.14).

»Bill Herd (SNP, Galashiels & District) £18,374.94 (£17,538.76).

»Gavin Logan (Con, Tweeddale East) £18,792.63 (£18,637.59).

»Stuart Marshall (Ind, Hawick & Denholm) £18,226.56 (£18,193.94).

»Watson McAteer (Ind, Hawick & Denholm, elected May 2014) £14,966.37.

»John Mitchell (SNP, Gala & District, depute leader finance) £29,218.01 (£28,021.94).

»Donald Moffat (SNP, Mid Berwickshire, community safety) £27,203,36 (£26,434.62).

»Simon Mountford (Con, Kelso & District) £20,313.96 (£19,891.19).

»Alec Nicol (Lib Dem, Kelso & District) £18,074.83 (£18,399.66).

»David Parker (Ind, Leaderdale & Melrose, leader) £36,337.32 (£36,132.74).

»David Paterson (Ind, Hawick & Hermitage, environmental services) £26,307.01 (£25,400.59).

»Frances Renton (Lib Dem, Mid Berwickshire, social work and housing) £27,859.78 (£24,953.94).

»Sandy Scott (Con, Jedburgh & District) £18,618.35 (£18,077.60).

»Ron Smith (Lib Dem, Hawick & Hermitage, planning & environment) £25,280.05 (£22,925.73).

»Rory Stewart (Ind, Jedburgh & District) £17,377.23 (£17,361.73).

»Jim Torrance (SNP, Leaderdale & Melrose) £17,707.40 (£17,629.59).

»George Turnbull (Con, Hawick & Hermitage) £20,077.05 (£19,459.05).

»Tom Weatherston (Con, Kelso & District) £18,533.58 (£18,038.70).

»Bill White (Ind, Galashiels & District) £18,157.45 (£18,018.59).