Conwy’s strained finances could be put under further pressure if draft plans for a £146,000 overall pay-rise for councillors get the go-ahead.

And whilst members voted for all councillors’ salaries and expenses to be frozen, a final decision is yet to be made.

The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) has released its plans for salary payments for Conwy councillors, which includes a  £6,726 pay-rise for the council’s leader.

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The draft IRPW plan was considered by Conwy County Council’s democratic services committee today as part of a consultation process that ends on November 26, and councillors were asked for their comments on the matter.

The payments would come into effect following the May 2022 elections.

Conwy’s leader’s salary is proposed to rise from £49,974 to £56,700 a year. The deputy leader’s wage could also shoot up £4,370 from £35,320 to £39,690.

But other councillors can also expect a pay increase if the plans are passed.

Executive members, such as cabinet members, would earn an extra £3,247 a year as their wages increase from £30,773 to £34,020.

The civic head’s salary is proposed to increase from £23,161 to £25,593, and the deputy civic head’s salary would increase from £18,108 to £20,540.

The basic salary for councillors would also increase from £14,368 to £16,800.

But the total number of councillors is set to drop from 59 to 55 due to boundary changes, resulting in some savings.

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Cllr Harry Saville proposed the committee recommended that all salaries are frozen, branding the proposed increase “obscene”.

“Considering we are currently working through the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think a 16.9 per cent pay-rise for elected officials is obscene,” he said.

But some councillors felt the pay increase would attract younger, working age people from more diverse backgrounds.

Cllr Goronwy Edwards said: “The point that Cllr Harry has made about obscene increases,  but I go back to the reason why these salaries have gone up over the last few years because we have tried to attract people of working age, younger people into local government, and I think if we are going to attract those people, we need to be realistic about the sort of pay they can expect for taking on these roles. I do think we need to keep abreast of that if we are going to attract new people into local government.

“I remember when I first became a councillor back in 1991, the actual amount we were paid was next to nothing, and gradually over the years they’ve recognised the increase in our workload and the responsibilities we had to take on. Obviously there is a boundary change as well coming in this election. Members will have to take on larger wards.”

“If we are going to attract working people, younger people, and people from different backgrounds, it has to bear that in mind – the remuneration should reflect that extra work.”

Cllr Nigel Smith said: “Well, this is always a difficult subject to discuss, but whilst I look at the screen at my fellow councillors, I see a group of people like myself who are quite comfortably well off, probably without a mortgage, and it is very easy for us to stipulate that we don’t need an increase. I understand where the IRPW are coming from. They want to increase diversity among councillors, and that is something that we need to do.”

Cllr Harry Saville proposed that all salaries and expenses are frozen, which was seconded by Cllr Sue Shotter, and this vote was carried eight votes to six.

The final decision will be made by the The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales.

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