£335,000 bill to pay councillors

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MORE than £335,000 was paid to South Holland district councillors last year.

The figure was made up of members’ allowances, special responsibility payments and expenses.

The highest claimer for the financial year to April 2012 was council leader Gary Porter, who claimed just short of £27,000.

His basic allowance was just £4,911, a £19,368.36 special responsibility payment for his position and £2,616.35 expenses.

Next highest were the council’s deputy leaders Nick Worth, who claimed £18,468.25 and Paul Przyszlak, who claimed £16,031.56.

Council chairman Mick Seymour claimed £11,793.81.

Coun Przyszlak, who is portfolio holder for strategic finance and democratic services, said: “Being a councillor is a position which elected members take pride in holding and do not do for the money.

“However, allowances are there to ensure all sections of the community can become councillors and contribute to the democratic process irrespective of their financial circumstances.

“Allowances are set by an independent renumeration panel which makes recommendations, but in these difficult economic times most, if not all, councillors have opted not to accept any increases.

“We will continue to work hard to present the communities we serve.”

Coun Porter said the payments represented good value for money for South Holland taxpayers, as he often put in more than 40 hours a week, including evening and weekend work.

He said: “It’s not a nine to five job.

“Sometimes I can be reading and researching, or sending off e-mails at 4.30am, which suits me, but sometimes it means I’m putting in 60 hours a week.

“The payments we receive are allowances which are supposed to stop us being out of pocket.

“There is no way we could do the things we do if we did not receive those payments because most people couldn’t afford to do it.

“It would mean the council would be made up only of rich retired people.

“A lot of people still believe we should do it for nothing, but a lot of what we have achieved at South Holland, such as shared management with Breckland which saves £600,000 a year, would never have happened.

“The only way to attract good and committed councillors is to ensure it is not financially onerous. Why should councillors be left out of pocket by doing it?”