‘UNDERVALUED’ and underpaid local councillors have called for an urgent pay review.
The call has been issued in advance of this year’s council elections by the National Association of Councillors.
The letter issued on behalf of councillors states, “In recent years councillors’ responsibilities and demands for their time and services have increased significantly in relation to carrying out their roles in public life, while continuing to provide support to their constituents and communities, without the back-up of a devolved government.”
Commenting, Councillor John Coyle said a lot more emphasis had been placed on local government.
“It was MPs and MLAs and then councillors but when we have abstentionist MPs and MLAs, a lot has fallen back to councils to lobby civil servants.
“There is nobody talking for the ordinary person on the ground so that’s where councillors and council have to come in and step up to the plate.
“I’m a full-time councillor, I do farm at home. I don’t mind people seeing how much I earn because I’m open and transparent.
“A lot of councillors have said that the wages do need to increase and that’s where the National Association of Councillors have seen that there’s struggles as a lot of councillors need a second job to sustain themselves.”
UUP Councillor Alex Baird also remarked how many councillors are balancing the responsibilities of a full-time job and role as an elected council representative.
“Any councillors I know are extremely busy and have probably never been busier. From a personal point of view, I’m not in it for the money, and an awful lot of councillors wouldn’t be in it for the money. Because I am retired I am available and there are other councillors who are holding a job down, that leaves it difficult for them to be available for consultation or a meetings during the day. If you extend the powers to such an extent that councillors would be full-time then the remuneration would have to reflect that.”
Councillor Bernice Swift pointed out the fact that Stormont hasn’t been fully functioning for over two years “while MLA’s are still receiving a salary is a rather damning indictment on their complete failure to carry out the job they were elected to do.”
She added, “I believe it is largely fair to say Councillors are effectively demonstrating leadership by working to meet solutions on matters of common and dynamic concern, however the continuing burden through our regional rates paying for a non-functioning Assembly must stop immediately. And steps put in place to devolve more powers to the Super Councils who are already filling in the political vacuum where possible left by the complete failure of Stormont.”
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