Metro Mayor and deputy set for £16,000 pay rise from West of England Combined Authority

September 28 2019
Metro Mayor and deputy set for £16,000 pay rise from West of England Combined Authority

West of England mayor Tim Bowles is set for a £3,000 pay rise, taking his salary to £65,000.

The deputy mayor role, currently held by South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage, will receive an allowance for the first time, of £13,000.

Mr Bowles’s 4.83% increase will be backdated to April 1, while Cllr Savage’s will effectively begin from June 2019 when he was appointed into the position.

It comes just weeks after Bristol councillors approved a £9,000 salary increase for the city’s mayor from next May’s local elections.

An independent remuneration panel is recommending the changes after concluding the West of England Combined Authority’s (Weca) directly elected mayor works over 65 hours a week.

But it is advising that all other members continue to receive no payments because their involvement is expected as part of their work for Weca’s constituent local authorities — Bristol city, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils.

Weca Committee, chaired by Mr Bowles, above, and comprising the leaders/elected mayor of the three authorities, will decide whether to approve the recommendations at its meeting on Friday, October 4.

The panel’s advice will also be considered by Weca’s overview & scrutiny committee two days earlier.

A report to Weca Committee said the last review was carried out by a South Gloucestershire panel two-and-a-half years ago, shortly before Weca began operating.

It said: “Currently only the directly elected mayor is in receipt of an allowance.

“This was set in 2017 and has not been uplifted to take account of inflation or any other factors.

“The panel noted that the mayor reported working in excess of 65 hours a week, a view supported by evidence on frequency of meetings and from the officers.

“The mayor cannot hold other paid employment. 

“The panel noted during the same time period, staff had received a two per cent annual increase in each of the two years.

“Taking this particularly into account, the panel concluded that the mayor’s allowance should be increased.”

The report said the deputy mayor was “likely to be spending about one day a week, or 20 per cent of the amount of time and responsibility spent by the mayor, on Weca business”.

It said: “This was beyond what could reasonably be expected of the amount of time and level of responsibility leaders and members of constituent authorities should spend on general Weca business.”

The panel concluded there was “insufficient evidence at this stage to warrant the introduction of allowances” to other Weca Committee members 

The report said: “The panel’s view was that there was an expectation within the constituent authorities that members should undertake this role at Weca as part of their local authority responsibilities.”

Members of Weca’s audit and overview & scrutiny committees will also receive no remuneration, although the four-member panel said there might be a case in future for their chairmen to receive an allowance, along with the independent scrutiny member.

The panel said there should be a further review of whether to introduce parental leave and a carers’ allowance for the mayor.

The report added: “The panel has conducted this first review at speed.

“They recommend there should be a more detailed review commencing soon when they would wish to revisit the recommendations in the light of more evidence.”

Toby Savage

Toby Savage will be paid £13,000 a year allowance for his responsibilities as deputy to Metro Mayor Tim Bowles

A Weca spokesperson said: “An independent remuneration panel has recommended the allowance for the role of mayor should be increased from £62,000 to £65,000.

“The current mayoral allowance was set in March 2017, before the mayor was elected, and has not been increased to take account of inflation or any other factors.

“The independent panel also recommended that an allowance should be introduced for the role of deputy mayor of £13,000 to reflect that the post of deputy will now be spending about one day a week, or 20 per cent of the amount of time and responsibility spent by the Mayor on Weca business.

“This was considered to be beyond what could reasonably be expected of the amount of time and level of responsibility that leaders and members of constituent authorities should spend on general Weca business.”

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service