Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fat cats

One of the principal objections to Elected Mayors is the way in which their salaries dwarf those previously paid to Council Leaders (immediately before they were replaced). There is little evidence that Council Tax payers receive any differential benefit for the extra outlay.

Over the past few months I've been trying to put together a "before and after" table for each of the Boroughs where Elected Mayors have been introduced, via Freedom of Information requests (Ian - you have my sympathies). So now, here are the facts

Borough Council Leader Salary Elected Mayor Salary Change

Hackney £5,126 £73,085 + 2945%

Hartlepool £7,200 £60,076 + 734%

North Tyneside £10,350 £58,629 + 466%

Watford £16,452.08 £56,088 + 241%

Middlesbrough £18,411.12 £61,585.02 + 235%

Stoke £29,790 £76,231.16 + 156%

Mansfield £21,477.02 £50,475.36 + 135%

Lewisham £32,800 £75,844 + 131%

Torbay £27,000 £58,980 + 118%

Doncaster £40,200 £70,567 + 75%

Newham (1) £76,194 N/A

Bedford (2) £46,326.96 N/A

(1) I couldn't get any more information from Newham, although I'm still trying!

(2) Prior to the creation of an Elected Mayor, there was no Leader of Bedford Borough Council (maybe a clue as to why the decision was taken to have one).

In addition, elected Mayors have a propsensity for political advisors (not to be confused with Cabinet members). These earn between £5,000 a year (in Lewisham there are 4) and up to £35,000 (in Bedford and Doncaster).

Most elected Mayors were created in 2002 and 2003. Has your salary increased by 523% since then (the average for all the Mayors where comparisons can be made?)

So with the cost of the referendum estimated at £145,000, and the cost of seperate elections for the elected Mayor at £100,000, it all begins to add up....


Anonymous said...

And your point is?
Can you really put a price on democracy?
Remind us what the overspend on the PH was?

Darlington Councillor said...

The point is self-evident, anonymous - under elected Mayors, salaries for the leading politician go through the roof.

Can you put a price on democracy - well that will be for the people of the Borough to decide when they have seen how much elected Mayors "trouser".

I just don't get the argument on the PH overspend - somehow "wasted" cash on PH justifies blowing hundreds of thousands of pounds on salaries, probably for the same politicians who did the job for a lot less. A curious line.

Anonymous said...

There will be many senior officers in DBC on higher salaries than an elected mayor. Would suggest that they are not worth their money as you are suggesting with a mayor?

Darlington Councillor said...

You're quite correct, a handful of officers do earn more than £60,000 At the moment, however, in common with the vast majority of councils in England and Wales, we have a Leader in a Leader and Cabinet system on the modest salary of £29,000.

Should we move to an elected Mayor system of rule, it is clear from what has happened everywhere else, that the salary of the town's leading politician will go through the roof. Is that what the people of Darlington want? - we'll see on 27 September.

Darlington Tory said...

You are forgetting all the non jobs created by Councils and Government since 1997.

Cultural Services Manager
Involvement And Consultation Project Officer
Head of Leadership and Talent
Inclusion & Diversity Manager

All non jobs from the non job bible the gaurdian.

Salaries ranging from 37k to 80k.

At the very least an Elected Mayor will be chosen by you and I.

Though His/Her first term should only be until our next Local Elections and bring it all in together.

Darlington Councillor said...

Firstly, David, I understand that Government guidance specifically rejects the idea that elections for councillors be held at the same time as that for elected Mayor. So only a recurring additional on-cost for Darlington Council Tax payers there.

Secondly, again, I have to say that your logic is all over the place. So what if some Councils have some fairly exotic officers (none of them are here, by the way)? Even if money is wasted elsewhere, how does that somehow justify a huge hike in the salary paid to the leading politician here?

"Other people are being fleeced - so now it's your turn" is hardly an attractive slogan for the Yes campaign to take before the people of the Borough, I would have thought.

Ian White, townliar said...

Nick could you clarify "a HANDFUL of officers get paid over £60K" I know of a good few more than I would consider a "handful"?
No mention of all the other perks these people get that whilst not financial account for a drain on taxpayers, expenses for example, company cars, mouse mats they all indirectly add up!

Darlington Councillor said...

Well, I haven't run my slide rule over the officer salary scales recently, but I think I'll stick by my use of the word "handful" - unless you know otherwise, Ian?

And forgive me, but I think you're playing the same game as David Davis in trying to divert attention away from the central message of my post - that elected Mayors collect big wads of cash when compared to Leaders in the Leader/Cabinet model. And those salary bills have to be paid by you and me.

Anonymous said...

The point about the vast overspend on the PH was to demonstrate that the current regime comes with a "hefy pricetag" for the tax payer.
It would be interesting to make a list of how much Labour incompetence has cost the Darlington taxpayer.

Darlington Councillor said...

Well perhaps we can agree to disagree about whether "Labour incompetence" has cost Darlington taxpayers.

Yes campaigners conduct this argument as if we hadn't trooped to the polls in May and elected a new Council. The people of Darlington had a chance to judge the ruling administration, and whilst we lost seats, they returned us with a working majority.

The fact that the Yes people hate Labour, and certain senior figures in the ruling group in particular, with an almost unhealthy passion is not a reason for tearing up the rule book and imposing these extra costs on the people of the town.

miketually said...

There's an article in the Echo on this today.

Ian White, said...

I dont hate Labour and will always consider myself a "Labour man" but frankly it is the leader of DBC that stops me and many others like me supporting our present council.
Whilst I have said this many times before you as a council would come under less public scrutiny if the present leader was put on "gardening leave"!

All you NO voters keep telling us how hard it is to change a Mayor but how easy it is to change the leader why not prove it?

Anonymous said...

Firstly, technically you did not win the majority of the votes, we did. You retained control due how the votes were cast. Thats good luck rather than good management.
Secondly, "hate" is a strong word to use.You sound defensive.Just because enough people who were dissatisfied with the way the ruling group were behaving to try to do something about it, does not mean they hate them. They have created an opportunity for the people to have their say. Arguing against this on the basis of cost is weak and hinting at a disregard for what democracy stands for
Gill Cartwright

miketually said...

"All you NO voters keep telling us how hard it is to change a Mayor but how easy it is to change the leader why not prove it?"

Perhaps the fact that he's not been removed points to there not being a need? Certainly the fact that Labour retained most of their Councillors points to there not being a need.

"Firstly, technically you did not win the majority of the votes, we did."

Labour got less votes than the Conservatives in the last Council elections. But, how many Labour voters living in the College ward, for example, didn't vote because they knew there was no chance of a Labour win in that ward but would vote in a town-wide election?

John Major's Tories polled more votes in 1997 when they lost power than they did in the previous general election when they won...

Al Gore polled more votes than Bush... Ok, bad example :)

ian white, said...

The only reason not to remove the present leader is to protect those allowances ....why bite the hand that feeds you?
Most of us are not interested in the past or the USA we want John Williams out, a blind man can see his cabinet, despite their claims of easiness cant or wont remove him so let democracy speack for its self!

Vote YES!!

Darlington Councillor said...

And now we get to the nub of it - Ian is commendably upfront with the motivation behind the Yes campaign - simply it's to get rid of John Williams.

Hate is indeed a strong term, Gill, and wasn't implying that it was what drove you, Mike or indeed David Davies into the Yes camp - I understand the politics of this, and after another dismal defeat in May, some Tories must despair of ever removing Labour when you were presented with such an open goal.

It is however an accurate term regarding some at the very top of the Yes camp, who detest John and see the Referendum as a convenient way of kicking him out. Two words of caution, however;

(1) Experience from elsewhere suggests that it's usually Council and Group Leaders who go on to be elected Mayors - so it's very likely in the event of a Yes vote that we'll end up with JW as elecetd Mayor.

(2) Do the public hate JW with the same passion as the likes of Stuart Hill and Clive Owen? Do they think it's worth putting up with a superannuated politician with few checks and balances, and scrapping the ceremonial Mayoralty? I happen to think they don't, but we'll find out on September 27th.

miketually said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
miketually said...

(deleted and reposted without messed-up tags)

"The only reason not to remove the present leader is to protect those allowances ....why bite the hand that feeds you?"

If they lose the seat they also lose their allowances. If they select someone else as leader, and keep their seats, they keep their allowances.

Whoever become leader gets even more allowances...

"Do the public hate JW with the same passion as the likes of Stuart Hill and Clive Owen?"

No. Most people I speak to think the Ped Heart is great and think town is getting better. They don't really know or care who is running things.

Ian White, said...

Nick is correct I dislike JW and all he stands for he has lied once "Hurworth will not close" how then can anyone trust him, and if what you are wanting Nick is for me to confirm my feelings you are correct!
After saving the best school in the Borough from this tyrants take over bid, and thus a merger can anyone blame me?
Our politicians are (alledgedly) supposed to work for the/their electorate JW is on record saying Hurworth will not close...he then went on to try to merge it with Eastbourne ...Hardly the honest open approach we expect of our elected ward councillors let alone the leader and thats why he must go...He made a statement then renaged on it, how can we ever again put faith in this man?

However upon his decission to close the best school in the town he did say ,in his own defence "time moves on"

Well sadly I think that same time has moved on and caught up with him, how he remains as leader is beyond the average comprehension of the average man/woman ..Once again as the "NO" crowd keep saying you can change leader every year if need be WHY HAS IT NOT BEEN DONE YET?

Or are they all looking out of rose tinted double glazing?

Anonymous said...

Do you remember JW's famous quote at the height of the Hurworth Eastbourne amalgamation debate? Hurworth wanted to expand to give a better education to a lot more kids.

JW's said at the time that Hurworth's expansion plans were "educational cleansing by social class." A more shamful quote has never been uttered.

Darlington Tory said...

"Hate is indeed a strong term, Gill, and wasn't implying that it was what drove you, Mike or indeed David Davies into the Yes camp - I understand the politics of this, and after another dismal defeat in May, some Tories must despair of ever removing Labour when you were presented with such an open goal".

This comment is way out, Nick, suggesting I/we were driven any where. Back in 06 I was blogging about having an Elected Mayor, it is something I like and want. If it were a New Labour Mayor so be it. At least the Leader would have been chosen by the people of Darlington, not Politicans. I will always disagree on the cost side of things, as I do not think you can put a price on Democracy.

And now we get to the nub of it - Ian is commendably upfront with the motivation behind the Yes campaign - simply it's to get rid of John Williams.

Ian White as far as I am aware, is not and has never been officially part of the 'YES campaign' and yes it is commendable that Ian is up front with HIS motivation, do not confuse an individuals motivation with that of a group, indeed do not put an individual in context of a group in this case one is not the same as the other.


Darlington Councillor said...

Interesting response, Dave.

I think I'm being fair to Ian in seeing him as a member of the Yes campaign - after all, he worked hard to collect signatures for the referendum, and has been posting positively about having an elected Mayor on the Liar and I think the old SHARE website before that.

In fact, when I was reflecting on the fanatics in the Yes camp who are motivated by personal grudges and slights in the past, I wasn't thinking about Ian at all. I would be surprised if you weren't aware of the various "agendas" within the Yes campaign, although I can see that acknowledging them in public might be rather embarfrassing for the Yes lot.

Ian White, said...

To clarify I am not officially a member of the yes campaign, I did help collect signatures for the referendum, I am for an elected Mayor and do not think JW should be leader anymore,equally no one party should be in control, if he were running a bussiness and had this bad track record he would of been gone long ago, and there are many more out there like me who will vote yes just to get him out, equally I voted against Labour at the last election probably like many others once again to remove JW. I feel I am not the only one who has realised the powers that be wont remove him (despite all the claims of the ease at which it can be done) so we the electorate must use any tool in our arsenal!

Et tu Brute

Amazed Onlooker! said...


Seem you are correct it does appear that now you have done your bit (correct me if Im wrong) being the single and largest collector for all of Hurworth, you have clearly outlived your usefulness and been stabbed in the back.
Has the yes campaign become a stricktly members only club? admission by invitation only, shame on you Darlington Tory and all in the yes camp!
I too am like Ian and was going to vote yes but I now fear I may not be in the "gang" I shall have to seriously re-consider my position if this is the way you attack your own!
Clearly honest and openness are not traits the "yes" side now admire which begs the question what are their motives.

miketually said...

"no one party should be in control"

And you think an elected mayor would achieve this? The most likely winner of the post would be a Labour or Conservative cabndidate.

As has been said elsewhere, what we need is an effective opposition working within the current system, not an elected mayor.

Anonymous said...

Should there be a yes return, Then the future winner won't be from the Lib-Lab-Con, it will be a dark Horse, prominent young writer to the Echos Hear All Sides. He will light a fire under your backsides, Cant wait, ha ha ha!!

Ian White, young writer said...

Define young, and got no

miketually said...

Excellent - I just got letters in two consecutive HASs! Should be a nice pay rise for me; will I get it in time for Christmas?

ian holme said...

Based upon the above, i suppose i should firstly confirm that iam not part of the "official" yes campaign, whatever that is.

Neither am i driven by hatred or desire for revenge as suggested on other forums.

However, I have seen current system operating at close quarters over recent years, and am afraid that the scrutiny system is simply ineffective at checking council policy.

We have a situation under this system where a party comes second in the popular vote yet a clear o/a majority. The scrutiny committees are made up to reflect the relative size of the political groups and therefore realistically will never be in a position to truly challenge the policy of a council wth an o/a majority.

I would prefer to see a system of p.r. for all elections, national and local,therfore ensuring that every vote will influence the outcome of an election, with an outcome truly representative of voters wishes. This is not currently an option. Therefore how about the scrutiny committees being based on p.r. based on the popular vote?

That would ensure that evry vote would carry an influence within council, and the ruling party could be held accountable for its actions.

Again this is not on offer.
Instead we have the option of an elected mayor. THis indeed puts great power in the hands of an individual. But that individual would be elected, with the whole electorate having a say in who runs our town, rather than selected by whichever party happens have the most councillors.

This individual would be accountable to the whole borough , and will stand or fall by his or her actions.

As an aside, the costs involved with this referendum process pales into insignificance alongside the money wasted through the mismanagement of the P.H scheme.

Adny Patterson said...

‘’P.H’’ ‘’P.R’’ What on earth are you talking about man? It’s no wonder us ordinary folk don't take any interest.

Basically if voting yes for elected mayor means;
(a) Paying someone to carry out mayoral duties which are already being done for free (b) Paying someone to carry out deputy mayoral duties which are already being done for free
(c) Paying more to cabinet members to carry out portfolio duties which are already being done for a modest fee
(d) Paying additionally for advisers to advise all the above to carry out these roles because they’ll have no understandings of law or policy

With the real likelihood of all this costing us ordinary folk even more Council Tax simply because a handful of disgruntled people; some who have a personal vendetta against the council leader and some who don’t like or possibly simply don’t understand the rules and process of a local election... My vote is a clear NO.


Ian White, town said...


Your choice mate....Democracy!!!

ian holme said...

hello andy;
apologies for the abreviations.
p.r. = Proportional Representation

p.h.= Pedestrian Heart

Just to re-affirm, i too am one of you "ordinary folk" as you so elequently put it. Having had no involvement or indeed interest in local politics until fairly recently, where i have now experienced close-up local "democracy" in action. For the reasons stated earlier, i believe on balance that an elected mayor would be preferable to the existing system. In the end though, the choise is yours, as tother Ian said, thats democracy!.

But whatever your decision, please DO VOTE, cos theres no point moaning about the outcome if you dont!

ian holme said...

The echo are putting on a "Question Time" event at the Arts Centre tomorrow night.

Lets hope we get a good turn-out and a reasoned debate, though i am afraid i imagine that most of the audience will be made up of the "usual suspects"!

Rob Yeldham said...

Just a correction, the Mayor in Lewisham has only one political assistant, not four as claimed in your blog. The other three support Lib Dem, Green and Labour Groups of councillors in the borough, not the Mayor.

Rob Yeldham
Head of Communications
Lewisham Council

Anonymous said...

Blooming heck Nick your blog site does go far and wide.

Alan Macnab

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks for that Rob.

To be fair, however, I based my reply on your Council's response to my FoI question "How many people act as advisors to the Mayor? What is their gross salary?"

Lewisham replied thus: "There are 4 Mayoral advisers on community cohesion, sustainability issues, youth culture and faith matters. Each receives a fee of £5k per annum."

Si it would seem that the Mayor has a political assistant (at what salary I don't know) plus these 4 "advisers". The picture looks worse than it did before!