Almost half of port council's cash goes on three salaries
LEADING councillor Mike Morey has defended the wages of Brixham Town Council staff after it was revealed almost half of the port's council tax precept is being spent on the three salaries.
According to budget figures revealed in documents at a council meeting, the Brixham Town Council clerk and her two assistants will see their combined salaries go up by £7,000 to £92,000, including pension contributions.
The proposed budget for Brixham for 2013/14 is £192,500.
The budget for salaries was £60,000 only two years ago.
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But Cllr Morey (pictured) said: "There is more than enough work for a clerk and two assistants. It is money well spent. If we were still run by Torbay Council we would be a lot worse off than we are. The provision for salaries has increased because we now pay living wages and the assistant clerk has new qualifications and moved up the salary banding scale."
Brixham Town Council said the increase in salaries had been necessary to cover living wages, pensions and a pay rise for one of the assistant clerks who has now achieved more qualifications.
Port resident Wayland Walker said that while Kingswear Parish Council has an annual budget of £47,000 and has a parish clerk paid £16,500 a year, which had remained unchanged for two years when public sector salaries were frozen, Brixham town council offers its clerks salaries equivalent to that offered by larger councils with three times the population.
Kingswear is responsible, among other things, for the maintenance and collection of rents in respect of a cemetery, cemetery lodge and moorings.
Meanwhile, Hereford City Council, the largest parish council in England, has a population of 57,000, an annual budget of £735,000 and employs a full-time town clerk, a full-time mayor's officer and four part-time assistants.
The clerk there is being paid between £42,000 and £47,000 which represents about six per cent of the council's budget.
In Brixham, the town clerk currently earns £39,855 which is the same as it was when the post was advertised in 2007.
Meanwhile, the deputy clerk earns £20,591 pro rata while the assistant clerk earns £15,849 pro rata.
Both are employed part-time.
The clerk's salary represents 20 per cent of the town council's current budget. The rest of the budget for salaries covers pensions.
In a letter to the Herald Express, Mr Walker said: "£92,000 on staff costs out of a budget of £192,500 seems excessive to me."
Town councillor Chris Lomas (pictured) added: "Other parish councils are run by part-time town clerks with some secretarial assistance.
"Do we really need a full-time clerk and two assistants costing us half what Brixham people pay in precept when the council is only statutorily responsible for allotments?
"We ought to spend this money on other things than just three members of staff."
Torbay and Brixham councillor Morey defended the staffing costs saying the smaller authority was dealing with a lot more than just allotments.
He said the role of the clerks was to administer the town council, provide additional land for cemeteries, take bookings for the town hall excluding the theatre, manage the town centre and look at all planning applications involving Brixham while also dealing with neighbourhood forums and all issues affecting residents.
Cllr Morey said the clerk's salary had not increased since the town council was formed in 2007.