THE leader of Cheshire County Council received more than £50,000 in allowances and expenses for the last financial year.
Cllr Paul Findlow (Con, Prestbury and Tytherington) was paid £44,464 in allowances and claimed £6,187 to cover travel and other out-of-pocket expenses.
His total of £50,652 had jumped by £9,863 from the previous year, according to figures just released.
Cllr Findlow was unavailable for comment.
And the total amount of allowances and expenses for all 51 councillors increased to £946,000 – a hike of more than £105,500 compared with 2006-7.
The increase is mainly because allowances for those with special responsibilities have gone up as a result of the recommendations of an independent panel in 2006 which found Cheshire councillors were receiving below average allowances.
Labour group leader Derek Bateman (Lab, Central and Westminster) received a total of £39,050 last year, made up of £23,148 for his allowances plus expenses comprising £10,835 to cover travel and £5,066 for hotels and meals while on council business. His total went up by £10,770 compared with the previous year.
Like all councillors, Cllr Bateman received £9,274 as a basic allowance, plus he was entitled to a £13,874 special responsibility allowance as leader of his group, staffing committee spokesman and corporate policy development panel spokesman.
He said: “I would have been earning about twice what I get at this stage if I still worked as an engineer at Vauxhall’s. I was made redundant from Vauxhall’s in 1981.”
Cllr Bateman added: “If it’s such a good package, why are there not lots of young people coming on to the council?”
Much of Cllr Bateman’s expenses relate to his work with the Local Government Association which requires travelling to London where he has the ear of ministers to help promote Cheshire at a national level.
But he always buys second class rail tickets and stays in a £50-a-night hotel in Paddington.
“I don’t believe in spending a lot on hotels because it’s just somewhere to get you head down,” he said.
Cllr Bateman said it was for others to judge if he was worth his money but believed he had left his “footprint” in Ellesmere Port by helping to secure electric trains and four brand new schools.
“It all comes back to the constituents in the town where I live. That’s where you start from, trying to make life better for them.”
Lib Dem leader Sue Proctor (Boughton Heath and Vicars Cross) received £26,654, the bulk of which was for her £25,600 in allowances and the rest to cover out-of-pocket expenses. The total had gone up by £3,223 on 2006-07.
Cllr Proctor said after tax, most councillors received below the minimum wage considering the hours they worked.
She said: “My hours usually come out on average at 55 per week. Days off are rare.
“I had to give up my paid job some years ago when I felt I couldn’t do justice to both and something had to give.
“The workload is considerable. Reading, research and preparation for meetings is time-consuming especially if you want to do the job properly.
“It is a full time occupation as far as I am concerned, not just meetings, but being available to discuss problems and offer help or advice.”