Monday, January 06, 2014

A resignation Michael doesn’t regret

In the midst of the holiday period there was some media coverage of Michael Green’s resignation from the Highland and Western Isles Joint Valuation Board. Briefly, there was an opportunity to appoint a new high heid yin at a reduced salary. Michael told the Gurn that the salary of £87,000 for the post of Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer was worth over £100K when the whole package was considered. He believed it was in the gift of the Highland Council to reduce the salary.

When asked if a reduced salary would have attracted a lesser calibre of applicant Michael replied that he was informed that there was no shortage of applicants for the job and it would probably have been the same number for a reduced salary. He said that the Council had to get its own house in order at a time when many individuals and businesses in the area are still taking their share of economic pain.

Michael also fails to see why it was necessary to fly the committee to Stornoway for a meeting with all the resultant expense on travel and meals etc, when video conferencing technology is in available. Michael sees his actions on this issue as reflecting the views of those voters that elected him. The committee voted 7-2 not to review the salary and thus Michael resigned. There will be many Gurnites who will share his view that this was a good opportunity to reduce the local government management wage bill in the Highlands.

Michael’s view is not reflected by his fellow Independent councillor Laurie Fraser however, he was quoted elsewhere: “The salary is comparable with what other officials get. He is responsible for the register of Council Tax, Business Rates and the electoral roll  - which are extremely important.” 


Anonymous said...

Well done Councillor Green. At last someone is prepared to stand up and truly represent the council tax payer.

The total package is outstandingly good for the level of responsility required for the job. I find it illuminating that Councillor Fraser thinks the package is fair.

Power to your elbow C. Green. Some more of the same please!

Anonymous said...

Good for Michael. Now maybe he'd like to set an example and take a cut in his own salary, or is it a case of one size doesn't fit all?

Anonymous said...

A lot of expensive journeys could be cut by better use of IT. Given the geography of the Highland region I would have thought it was a priority as a huge cost saver. Michael for example would rarely even have to travel to Inverness for council meetings if technology was used to enable more meetings, and this would save on his and other councillors expenses

Paper and printing is another area that could be entirely electronic

Anonymous said...

If our councillors have other incomes shouldn't they hand all public cash back?

paymaster said...

Full credit to Michael Green. Not only for arguing that there should be rigorous scrutiny and downward pressure on senior Council officials' pay packages in tough economic times, but also for resigning from the committee to underline that he regarded the issue as a matter of of principle, and was not just playing at political point-scoring.

Anonymous @ 2.04pm. It's a cheap shot to suggest that elected Councillors should also take a salary cut, for two reasons. First, there is a vast difference between the generous pay of senior Council officials (£87k and indeed upwards to above £100k) and the modest amount (less than £20k) paid to an elected Councillor - though some like Liz McD augment that by extra pay for Chair/Vice Chair/Leader roles in the ruling group.

Second, many elected Councillors - like Green - make a substantial financial sacrifice by reducing or giving up their "normal" job or business in order to serve as representatives of their community. So it's both churlish and unjustified to suggest that his modest remuneration be cut just because he advocated a reduction in the far larger salaries offered to full-time senior Council employees and managers.

We need more elected Councillors like Michael Green with independent minds and a willingness to stand up for what's right, and fewer yes-men, party-hacks and camp-followers.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is a cheap shot to ask councillors to take a salary cut. Most of our Nairn councillors have other sources of income and the the so called modest salary that paymaster deems their payments is more than I get for working full time. Cllr MacDonald augments her salary by £8 for chairing 4 meetings a year. Nice money if you can get it but isn't that what Cllr Green is criticising? Or do his objections not extend to his fellow councillors?

I wonder which one of them would like to stand up and tell us that they're providing an excellent service for their salary?

And isn't there a saying lead by example?

Another anonymous said...

£8? Didn't you mean to say £8,000 anon? Isn't that the amount that Cllr MacDonald gets for being the Area leader of Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey?

Anonymous said...

Stones and glass houses come to mind!

Whilst some of Cllr Green's initiatives for the town (e.g. street market, Games Day Beer tent) have proved popular they are also blatantly helping out Nairn's business community. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this his actions aren't always as altruistic as at they first might seem

If charity begins at home than yes Cllr MacDonald's £8K for chairing four meetings a year should be firmly under the spotlight

Anonymous said...

Paymaster - well said -Anonymous said @10.01 - what do you want? A town stagnating and going into decline or some-one like C Green with excellent ideas, some of which are very workable and MOST town residents like. They loved the street market and the improvement to the facilities at Games Day. Stop being negative - try being half full instead of half empty!

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget "our" councillors used to carry out this function for no salary, but because they wanted to do good for their community.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:13PM

Using your logic if I said that the Assessor and Electoral Registration Officer was doing a great job, had some good ideas, and was well liked then there would be no reason to question the salary he's being paid!

I'd also (as I'm sure everyone would) to hear what exactly these 'excellent ideas' Cllr Green has beyond the street market and a beer tent which are according to your good self 'stoping the town stagnating and going into decline'?

Perhaps it's a while since you've managed to walk along the High St but I think despite Cllr Green's efforts our shops are in severe decline and it's going to take more than a stuffed bear to bring it back to life

If Cllr Green is voting with his feet over the salary and conditions applied to one employer of the council why is it that looking at the monies and expenses paid to our local councillors is 'being negative'? Seems only fair to me

Anonymous said...

I applaud Michael Green's stance on salaries but as has been said everyone on Highland Council's payroll should have their payments scrutinised.

Nearer to home I'm appalled that Liz MacDonald is paid £8,000.00 on top of her councillor's salary to chair four meetings per year of the area committee

It would be very interesting to know what other committee's our councillors sit on and how much they're paid to do so

Perhaps Michael Green should make this his next agenda

Anonymous said...

Liz is NOT paid to "chair 4 meetings". She is one of the Highland Council's senior Councillors and is paid a responsibility element that reflects her role managing the Area Committee's functions.
These functions are many and varied and can be found on the Council's website - as can full details of all Councillors' payments.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:27 PM

Can you provide a url for "These functions are many and varied and can be found on the Council's website"

I don't seem to be able to find them and so far can only see that the area committee has four meetings per year

Graisg said...

A quick google and this page becomes available Anon 10.21

Perhaps Anon 7.27 has further links for you however?

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that Michael Green has opened up the Genie bottle and is it any wonder that some folk are now asking questions about the work and pay of our very own councillors

Sorry but £8 grand a year for Liz MacDonald to be in charge of what seems to be a bit of a quango seems to me to be very good money for not doing very much, and I watched the whole video of the first meeting of the area committee

Hopefully full details of the very extensive work she does way and beyond these meetings will come to light and I'll be happy to eat my words

Meanwhile it seems like a lot of money to me and for many other folk in Nairn who bump along on minimum wage/part time or both

Anonymous said...

Is it right that these area committees have no budget of their own?

Anonymous said...

And just how much do our Community Councillors get paid? Zero

The system is unfair

D.Ross said...

Having seen comments on here & in the N.T. I think people are getting their wires crossed so to speak!

ALL Councillors (who are voted in by us) are paid a basic salary of £16,234.00 (for 2012-2013) they then get additional pay depending on the various committees etc. that they attend. They can also claim expenses & traveling costs. This is on top of what ever money they earn from their normal day-to-day jobs (which is not listed).

ALL this info is made public & can be found in these two links here;

So you can see how much every Councillor was paid by the Highland Council in a financial year by downloading the PDF for that year.

HOWEVER, you can NOT get the same information on the pay of the Council officials/Civil servants who are not voted in & are the ones who in some cases are getting paid £80,000.00 plus a year!!

Graisg said...

@Master Chef, re Liz and planning, salaries etc, thank you for your comment but we have decided not to publish.

Graisg said...

@Council tax payer - I can find no information as to the Directors salaries on the page link you sent.
Where do you get the expected pension figures from? And the average Highland Wage - there are many different occupations listed on that page.
How do you work out the average Councllors pay too - is that from the HC site? The figures are very interesting but would need to see how you work it out before publishing.

D.Ross said...

I've dug around a bit more & have managed to finally find the info on the Council officials/civil servants salaries for Highland Council!

This link provides PDF downloads for each financial years pay structures within Highland Council.

This next link displays under an F.O.I. request the salaries paid to the Directors/Senior Management of Highland Council in 2012/2013

So £80,000.00 is nothing compared to what some people in Highland Council are getting paid! But they will argue that as per the private sector this is "average pay". Oh pull the other one!

Graisg said...

Thanks for that David.
Council Tax Payer was suggesting the following re directors:
"The average salary for them is £111,100 (2012 figures)

Take that against the average salary in the Highlands £23,940

That is an average difference of £1,676 per WEEK."

Perhaps Gurnites who are good at maths and can find a source for the average wage in the Highlands could check/confirm that. Would £23,940 be the average - this observer knows quite a few people that get the minimum wage or just a bit more than that.

D.Ross said...

Looking at the data in the Highland Council wages sheets in the links in my previous post I note the following;

There are 8 head directors with a total pay of £888,807.00 in 2012/2013. This is an average of £111,100.88 per director.

Other staff/civil servants in H.C. get paid anything from £6.23/hr to £40.11/hr. This is spread over 65 pay groups with an average (all pay groups added together then divided by the number of pay groups which is 65) pay of £17.80/hr!

They quote both 35hr/week & 37hr/week worked for the total yearly salary which can be from £11,339.00 (£6.23/hr for 35hr week) right up to £77,172.00 (£40.11/hr for 37hr week)!

Then you have whatever pensions, benefits etc on top as well!