Broadband for councillors pushes up Newtown pay bill by 2.3 per cent

L-R Graham barker, William Windram, David Parker at the engraved stone in memory of Garry Fay Head Stone Mason on the project, who sadly died recently
L-R Graham barker, William Windram, David Parker at the engraved stone in memory of Garry Fay Head Stone Mason on the project, who sadly died recently

Despite a salary freeze, the amount paid out to Scottish Borders Council’s 34 elected members rose by 2.3 per cent in 2010/11.

A report by payroll manager Gary Alexander for today’s full council meeting at Newtown reveals that the total disbursed to councillors totalled £752,969 – up by £17,119 on the previous year.

By far the biggest earner was leader David Parker with £38,474, a small increase on last year, although his salary of £32,470, agreed on April 1, 2009, remained unchanged.

Indeed, all basic salaries remained static at £16,234, as did the extra payments made to those councillors with special departmental responsibilities.

The second-highest earner was depute leader and finance spokesman Neil Calvert. The Tory from West Linton lifted £31,470. He also topped the expenses league by claiming £7,117.

At the other end of the pay scale the cheapest councillors were backbenchers Zandra Elliot (Con), Bill Herd (SNP), Jim Hume (Lib Dem), Fiona Lackenby (Con) and David Paterson Ind) whose total claims were under £18,000 for the full year.

Mr Hume, with just £17,404, was the lowest earning councillor although the member for Galashiels and District has the consolation of being a list MSP at Holyrood.

In his report, Mr Alexander noted that car and van expenses had fallen by 6.4 per cent to £62,363, but that the cost of telephone and IT expenses had nearly trebled – from £15,385 on 2009/10 to £41,566.

“The increase in costs is due to 2010/11 being the first year it has been possible to allocate an amount for broadband to individual members,” said Mr Alexander.

“The total figure therefore includes all annual line rentals amount of £25,462 for the broadband lines which enable members to conduct council business at home.”