Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wicklow County Council Gravy Train must be Halted at Annual Budget

Wicklow Sinn Féin County Councillor John Brady has said that the Gravy
Train that exists on Wicklow County Council must come to an end and
the veil of secrecy that covers the expenses paid to Councillors that
sit on committees outside the council must be lifted. Figures the
Councillor obtained show that some Councillors are paid a staggering
€6,000 a year to chair four meetings, that's €1,250 per meeting.

Sinn Féin Councillor John Brady said "The annual budget of Wicklow
County Council takes place on Monday 17 December and in the draft
budget there are many proposals to cut from front-line services.
Critical areas such as Fire Services, housing maintenance, libraries
along with roads and funding to residents associations and community
groups are all planned to be cut because of a further cut of funding
to the council by central Government. However in the draft budget
which was approved by the councils corporate policy group, which a
number of Councillors sit on, there are no plans to tackle the
exorbitant expenses paid to some County Councillors who sit on
different committees."

Cllr Brady stated "I had requested a full break down of committees
that Councillors sit on and i am surprised at the reaction that i have
received from some Councillors. I have obtained a breakdown of the
figures since 2009, however i have been told that i can only have
figures for committees that Councillors sit on and chair within the
council itself and if i want a list of expenses paid to Councillors
for committees that Councillors sit on by virtue of being elected to
the Council i must write to these organisations and request it

Cllr Brady continued "The information i have received certainly paints
a picture that certain Councillors on Wicklow County Council are on
the gravy train. The chairpersons of each of the councils Strategic
Policy Committees (SPC's) get an allowance of €6,000 and on average
each committee sits 4 times a year. That means the chair is paid a
staggering €1,250 per meeting. There are 5 SPC's on Wicklow County
council, Nicky Kelly is chair of Housing and Corporate Estate, Vincent
Blake chair of Water and Environmental Services, George Jones chair of
Community, Cultural and Social Development, Pat Vance is the of chair
Planning and Economic development and Christopher Fox is chair of
Transport and Roads Infrastructure."

Brady went onto say "In the figures it also shows that Fine Gael
Councillor George Jones is also paid a further €6,000 for sitting on
the County Development Board which again sits on average 4 times a
year. So Cllr. Jones alone is paid €12,000 for 8 meetings. These
payments to Councillors are on top of the other standard allowances
Councillors are given and does not include expenses for conferences or
other trips they may attend. At the first AGM of this council in 2009
we seen Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil join a pact to try exclude
Sinn Féin from key positions on the council, its quite apparent now
the real reasons for that. Its not because they think their policies
are better or anything, no its because they are on the gravy train and
there they want to remain."

"This gravy train must be stopped and the County Council budget is the
ideal time to start. There are many front-line services that the
council are proposing to cut with the blessing of some of the
Councillors that sit on the corporate policy committee of the council.
I don't know how they can propose to cut funding from front-line
services such as libraries and the fire service whilst still making
provision in the budget to pay themselves €1,250 per meeting. Myself
and my party colleague John Snell would be only too willing to take up
chair of any of the committees and we would not be looking for a penny
in return, so if these Councillors cant chair a meeting for less than
€1,250 they should let someone else take on the roll." said Brady

Cllr Brady concluded "I will be putting forward proposals at the
council meeting to see theses expenses cut, i hope to receive the
support of the other Councillors, however i wont hold my breath
because as the saying goes Turkeys don't vote for Christmas."

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