“The ceremonial head of a cash-strapped council is set to be given a £2,500 pay rise just weeks after a decision to shut the county’s youth clubs.
A meeting of Gwynedd council’s democratic services committee today recommended that the council chair should see their pay upgraded to “band 1” status.
The role – known in some areas as the county mayor – changes hands every 12 months and involves presiding over full council meetings and representing the authority at various functions in a civic capacity.
At present, the holder is afforded “band 2” status, meaning they would receive £21,800 in 2018/19.
But, if Gwynedd’s full council accepts the committee’s recommendation when it meets on May 3, the chair’s pay will increase to £24,300.
The committee’s findings come just a month after the authority decided to introduce a new youth service model, which will see all 39 existing youth clubs replaced by a single county-wide offering in a bid to save £270,000.
Cllr Charles Wyn Jones, who proposed the pay rise during this morning’s meeting, said: “Having fulfilled the role myself, I know that the council chair usually has to attend at least 40 functions a year, many of which take place in the daytime.
“I feel the title holder should be paid more than the committee chairs, simply due to the number of hours they have to put into the role.
“I know the role only lasts a year, but it involves putting in many hours.”
Cllr Dewi Owen, also a former council chair, echoed his sentiments: “Living in Aberdyfi and having to travel to functions in places such as Bangor, it meant having to stay over in bed and breakfasts and many hours of travel time in order to do the job properly.”
The new council chair, succeeding Cllr Annwen Daniels, will be selected by county councillors next month.
Meanwhile, all 75 Gwynedd councillors will receive a £200 pay rise to £13,600 a year, in line with the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales’ (IRPW) findings for the 22 Welsh authorities.
Questioning the panel’s findings, Menai Bangor councillor Catrin Wager said: “I do feel that at a time when cuts are being made, an extra £200 for every member is questionable.
“Is there anything we can do apart from accept this?”
In response, democratic services manager Vera Jones confirmed that members could choose to waive the automatic pay rise by informing the authority in writing.
There will be no change in the salaries of the council leader and deputy, which will remain at £48,300 and £33,800 respectively.
Members of the cabinet will be paid £29,300 a year, and £22,300 for committee chairs.
The final decision on member salaries will be formally rubber stamped during Gwynedd’s full council meeting on May 3.”