Senior West Yorkshire Tory brands combined authority committee costs ‘scary’
A senior West Yorkshire councillor has accused regional super-council West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) of spending “scary” amounts of money on its committee meetings.
Leader of the Conservatives group on Bradford Council John Pennington claimed each member of of WYCA’s transport committee was costing the taxpayer “£750 per meeting”.
The comments came during WYCA’s annual meeting, and other members responded by saying the allowances covered the extra work done by members of the committees.
Coun Pennington told the meeting: “I speak as someone who has come into this meeting today and spent £7.50 on a train.
“The cost of some of these committees is getting a bit scary. We have overview and scrutiny – to set that up with 18 members, you are talking about £33,500.
“For transport committee, you have £55,000, plus 16 members who get an allowance of £4,500 a year.
“For six meetings a year, it works out at 750 pounds a meeting.”
Coun Pennington was referring to a document titled “West Yorkshire Combined Authority Members’ Allowances Scheme Municipal Year 2019/20”, which listed allowances councillors were allowed to claim for if they sat on certain committees.
It shows that each member of WYCA’s transport committee, which oversees scrutiny on rail and road-related issues in the region, are each entitled to a basic allowance of £4,500 per year. Each member of the overview and scrutiny committee is allowed to claim up to £1,350 per year. The committee chairs are allowed to claim an extra £24,800 and £7,848 respectively.
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake told the meeting: “I would hate anyone to leave this meeting and not appreciate the work that those on the transport committee do. It is not just going to meetings – it is a huge amount of work.
“The work we do through WYCA is dependent on the detailed work that is done across the region.”
Following the meeting, a WYCA spokesperson said: “The allowances and expenses paid to members are agreed by all members of the combined authority at our annual meeting, as they were today.
“Allowances are benchmarked against those paid across local government and reflect the extensive responsibilities of members overseeing the delivery of significant publicly-funded investment programmes. This involves extensive engagement with the work of the combined authority and its partners in addition to their participation in committee meetings.”