The Welsh Government is said to be considering proposals to reduce the number of councillors in Wales â€“ whilst increasing pay by around 60% – to keep local Labour colleagues on board with wider local government reform.
The allegations come following discussions held between Labour Party members in Swansea. A source has revealed that one idea being discussed would be to halve the number of councillors in merged areas, and increase their pay by 62% – from Â£13,600 to around Â£22,000 per year.
Shadow Local Government Secretary, Janet Finch-Saunders, said the proposals amounted to a â€œbungâ€�.
For those Councillors who stand down or lose their seats in such a reorganisation, the alleged proposal would be to pay those councillors who would lose their seats, based on years of service â€“ around Â£500 per year. This would mean a lump-sum pay-off of Â£10,000 for a councillor who has served 20 years.
â€œIt is clear that such discussions would only be made to try to sweeten the deal for elected members â€“ and this essentially amounts to a bung.
â€œThe Cabinet Secretary denies such discussions have ever taken place, but I would urge him to speak further with his party members â€“ who clearly have considerable concerns about the future make-up of local government, and want to ensure that they lose out as little as possible from his reform proposals.
â€œThe widespread opposition from councils across the political spectrum to the Cabinet Secretaryâ€™s green paper proposals would lead many to hope that he will ditch these â€“ as so many others have in the past.
â€œCertainly, to ensure that the Welsh Labour Government is on board with sector thinking a far better thought-out and costed model must be put on the table than the current arbitrary proposals. Reform must not be top-down, but should follow effective engagement across this level of governance and all areas of public service delivery to ensure meaningful, whole-scale reform.â€�