Criticism as new mayor’s top team take big salaries

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DONCASTER’S newly-elected mayor faced criticism as it emerged her new 10-strong cabinet would cost the taxpayer almost £100,000 more than her predecessor’s team.

Labour’s Ros Jones, who beat former independent mayor Peter Davies to the job by just 639 votes a week ago, unveiled her new cabinet late Thursday.

But her opponents immediately questioned the requirement for nine people plus herself, and criticised the allowance bill for her top team, which will total £249,000.

Mr Davies’s cabinet consisted of six people, including himself, with allowances adding up to £153,000.

Eight members of the new cabinet will claim £24,000 a year, including £12,000 basic allowance, and £12,000 special responsibility pay - a total of £192,000.

The deputy mayor, Coun John McHale, will claim basic allowance and £15,000 special responsibility bonus, a total of £27,000, while Mayor Jones, will take £30,000, the same as Mr Davies.

Mr Davies’ deputy mayor claimed the total £27,000 a year, while his other four cabinet members took £24,000 made up of basic and special responsibilty pay.

Under Doncaster Council rules, the mayor can claim up to £48,000 special allowance but this has been curtailed by both Mr Davies and Mayor Jones.

Last night Mr Davies questioned the need for nine cabinet members plus a mayor, saying he had managed “quite well”.

He added: “It is completely outrageous, all Labour ever do is stick their hand in the till. I managed for four years with no more than six, so this decision baffles me.”

Coun Jonathan Wood, a member of the opposition Tory group said the cost of the cabinet would be “outrageous” to people whose services were under threat.

He added; “They can’t even manage their own department without doubling the costs in the first week. They are supposed to be saving money.”

The officer in charge of the mayoral budget, Steve Mawson, would not respond to questions about the cabinet’s allowances.

But a press officer said, like Mr Davies, Mayor Jones had a £159,000 special responsibility allowance budget, which she “underspent”, by cutting her salary.

Coun Jones was also not available for interview, but her office released a statement.

It said: “It is important that I have a full and strong cabinet to tackle the financial challenges we face as a council and move Doncaster forward.

“These are difficult economic times and working within the same budget as the previous administration, my team will work tirelessly to do the best for residents and businesses.

“I am confident my cabinet will prove full value for money and deliver on our key priorities.”