Row over £5,000 payments to council directors

Have your say

A DECISION to pay councillors £5,000 for being directors of a council-owned company has been branded “simply unacceptable”.

Opposition councillors on Hull Council are demanding Labour reverses a decision to award remuneration to councillors on the board of KWL, 85 per cent of whose work is done for the council.

Lib Dem councillor Eliza Mann is moving a motion at a meeting next week objecting to the payments at a time when the cash-strapped authority is cutting jobs.

She said: “We support KWL as a company and want it to succeed; we just don’t think the councillors should award themselves more money while at the same time the Labour administration are cutting jobs and services. It is simply unacceptable - councillors should not be giving themselves more money like this.”

Last April KWL took on all the council’s housing maintenance and repair work, following the collapse of Connaught and the expiry of the contract with Kier.

Labour councillor Phil Webster, who chairs KWL’s shareholding committee, said he’d given the directors the authority to pay themselves, but added: “The company is expanding and it’s the ability down the line that if they want to bring in outside directors they have the authority to pay for their expertise. I believe half of them have refused any money anyway.”

Coun Webster claimed the Lib Dems were displaying “hypocrisy of the highest order” and in the past councillors had been paid far more as directors of the Hull-based telecoms company KC. He said: “I don’t remember them complaining when they had their own people on the board of KC.”

Five of the eight councillors on the board are Labour.

Tory councillor John Fareham, who is a director, also defended the payments but declined to say whether he was being paid.

He said: “If this was a vast amount of mega millions and we were rolling around in Jaguars, there might be grounds for concern.

“We are probably the only council-owned company in the history of Hull where we have actually got a contract which we have to work to where we don’t just turn up like nodding donkeys.”

Coun Daren Hale, deputy council leader and chairman of KWL, said he wasn’t taking the money, because of his other council role.

Former council leader Simone Butterworth, a director of KWL, has also declined the remuneration, because it would reduce council dividends.

Business leader for KWL Kevin Redmore said the company was subject to The Local Authorities (Companies) Order 1995 which restricts

directors’ remuneration at low level.

He added: “The company is not in a position to comment on the possibility of redundancies at Hull Council. However, KWL have returned £5.3m to the Authority since 2007 and have provided savings in excess of £2m in the last year alone.”