Daventry district councillors claimed thousands in allowances, but they offer ‘good value’ and enable people from all backgrounds to be elected says the council leader.
In the 12 months to the end of March this year, Daventry district councillors claimed a total of £261,436.24.
The payments went to 41 members – more than the 36 council seats due to councillors leaving and joining over the course of the year.
Allowances are made up of a basic payment of £4,437 which goes to every councillor on a pro rata basis if they gain or lose their seat during the 12 months. There are also payments to those with special responsibilities like committee chairmen and portfolio holders to cover their extra work, and councillors can also claim expenses.
The biggest payment of £18,547.82 went to council leader Chris Millar. He said: “I certainly believe this offers value for money to taxpayers. It’s not a scheme unique to us, and for instance I believe I get the second lowest council leader allowance in the county. It’s not a salary, being a councillor is a vocation. It’s payment to acknowledge the time councillors have to give to their roles.
“You can claim expenses for mileage to come to council meetings, so those who live in Daventry will have low claims, but those living in wards like Welford and Walgrave will claim more. Travel to events and training sessions is covered. But whenever I travel to London say, I take a second class train ticket and use the tube. But it can only be for official council work, not political things. It also covers things like childcare for when meetings are on, or costs incurred if you have disabilities.
“The whole point is that people should be able to stand for election to the council no matter what their financial situation and not be left out of pocket. It also gives people the opportunity to progress, to take on extra responsibilities.”
Along with Cllr Millar four others received allowances over £10,000 – Alan Chantler from Yelvertoft who is strategic planning portfolio holder; Daniel Cribbin from Moulton who holds the environment portfolio; Alan Hills from Daventry who is in charge of community, culture and leisure; and Chris Over, also from Daventry, who has the economic, employment and regeneration portfolio.