Northern Ireland news

Antrim and Newtownabbey council plans 81% pay hike for mayor

The DUP's John Smyth, mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Brendan Hughes

A COUNCIL is facing criticism for plans to give its mayor an 81 per cent pay hike.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is proposing to nearly double the mayor's pay from £13,797 to £25,000.

This is on top of the basic annual wage already received by councillors of around £15,000 – meaning the mayor would be set to earn £40,000.

It would make Antrim and Newtownabbey's civic leader the fourth highest earning across the north's 11 councils.

The council is also proposing to increase the deputy mayor's pay from £9,021 to £11,000 and to increase the allowances paid for roles such as chairing committees.

Councillors will discuss the pay proposals at this evening's full monthly council meeting.

SDLP councillor Ryan Wilson said: "There can be no justification for increasing the allowance for the mayor by over £11,000.

"It is obscene when many residents rely on food banks, council workers are expected to make do with a two per cent increase in pay and many of our businesses and householders struggle with their rates bills."

The Dunsilly area representative urged councillors to reject the proposals and to cap future rises to the level awarded to the council's own staff.

"It is time to show leadership and to not appear that we have our noses in the trough at the expense of the hard-working ratepayers of this borough," he added.

The current mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey is DUP councillor John Smyth and the deputy mayor is Sinn Féin councillor Anne Marie Logue.

The posts, which involve representing the council at many civic and ceremonial events, change hands each year and are annually elected by fellow councillors.

Belfast City Council has the highest paid lord mayor in the north at £34,800.

In second is Derry City and Strabane council's mayor at £31,950 while Lisburn City and Castlereagh's mayor is third with £26,982.

The lowest paid is in Fermanagh and Omagh council where the chairperson receives £10,000.

These allowances to mayors and chairpersons are given on top of the councillors' basic annual allowance.

Antrim and Newtownabbey had already set its 2019/20 scheme for councillor pay back in June.

But in papers for this evening's council meeting, it said it has received updated Stormont guidance for regulations on councillor pay which came into operation last month.

Its scheme of allowances has been amended to incorporate the guidance, the local authority added.

A council spokesman said councillors will "consider correspondence received from the Department for Communities in relation to its updated Consolidated Guidance on Councillor Allowances at the council meeting".

 

Annual pay for mayors and chairpersons in Northern Ireland councils

Belfast – £34,800

Derry City and Strabane – £31,950

Lisburn and Castlereagh – 26982

Antrim and Newtownabbey – £25,000*

Newry, Mourne and Down – £20,165.40

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – £19,103

Ards and North Down – £14,856

Mid Ulster – £14,000

Causeway Coast and Glens – £12,000

Mid and East Antrim – £12,000

Fermanagh and Omagh – £10,000

*Proposed pay. Current figure is £13,797.

(Figures from council websites. These 'annual allowances' awarded to council mayors and chairpersons are in addition to their basic annual wage earned as councillors of around £15,000)

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