Councillor expenses release reveals Knutsford members received total of £112,000 last year (From Knutsford Guardian)
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Councillor expenses release reveals Knutsford members received total of £112,000 last year
THE expenses and allowances claimed by Knutsford’s borough councillors for last year have been revealed by the authority.
The town’s three councillors –– plus the three ward councillors for Chelford, Mobberley and High Legh – took home almost £112,000 between them in allowances, special allowances and expenses in the 2012/13 council year.
All councillors receive a basic allowance of £11,199 and can then claim extra on top of that for travel and subsistence.
Those who sit on the cabinet – like Clr Peter Raynes and Clr Jamie Macrae (who is no longer in that position) – achieve an special responsibility allowance, with Clr Macrae being awarded £14,000 extra and Clr Raynes getting £12,822.
Clr Stewart Gardiner, Clr Steve Wilkinson and Clr Olivia Hunter all received an extra special allowance for cabinet support roles.
Clr Raynes, who is in charge of the borough’s finances as well as being a ward member for Knutsford, said: “When councillors take on extra responsibilities they are paid an allowance for the extra work required. In case of the finance portfolio which I hold this is equal to a busy and full-time job.
“Councillors can also claim for expenses in doing the job if they wish to. Some councillors, of which I am one, choose not to claim any expenses.”
Clr George Walton was mayor in the 2012/13 year and is member for Chelford. During that time he claimed £1,271 in travelling expenses to get to meetings.
He said: “My mileage claims are related to the distances travelled to attend various committee/board/panel/ parish council meetings, including planning site visits, attendances at council briefings and training sessions, all at various locations and in connection with council business.
“I maintain a very accurate diary record and complete and submit a monthly claim form for checking and approval. It should be borne in mind the geographical size of Cheshire East together with the area of my Chelford ward.”
Clr Olivia Hunter, ward member for Knutsford, claimed £1,000 in travelling expenses as well as a special allowance of £2,566 for roles including being the borough’s Older People’s Champion.
She said: “Travel expenses cover long runs, example Congleton, Macclesfield, Crewe, Sandbach and the short journeys are not applicable as such.
“Journeys can criss cross from one area to another for meetings and can build up many more miles than claimed for. You will note the total amount claimed averages around £20 per week.
“Councillors cover the whole of Cheshire East, in their capacity as representatives of the council and the sharing of work load both for their ward and council duties, which also includes full council meetings, which can last anything up to 10 hours, or more.
“These will include Crewe, Sandbach, Middlewich, Congleton, Macclesfield and various other areas, as just a few examples.”
Knutsford Clr Stewart Gardiner claimed a £4,476 special allowance but did not claim for any travel.
He said: “I have not claimed any mileage – a definite choice though I may do if I am required to go too far outside CEC’s boundaries.
“As for my special allowance this is the additional sum I receive as Cabinet support, and when you consider the additional hours I put in this is probably better value for money than the standard allowance, which I’d receive anyway.
“I could say more on this subject, and I did, when called as a witness to the independent panel which periodically looks into members expenses.
“However I anticipate this is an area where if you ask all 80-something members their opinion on the issue you would receive 80-plus different responses.”
Clr Steve Wilkinson, ward member for High Legh, who didn’t claim any travel expenses either, told the Guardian: “I don’t believe we should be claiming for travel, there has to be an element of public service.”
Mobberley councillor Jamie Macrae claimed £28,844 in total but did not reply to the Guardian’s inquiry at the time of going to press.
What do you think about the expenses claimed by borough councillors in the Knutsford area? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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