Councillors salary and expenses total almost £500,000 for year

Shetland’s councillors have cost the public purse just under £485,000 in salary and expenses payments over the last 12 months.

The bill for the 2009/10 financial year reached £484,891.80, up from the £446,618 claimed during 2007/08.

Clocking up the highest expenses was West Side councillor Florence Grains, who claimed £14,373.83.

As in previous years, the vast bulk of her total claimed was for taxi fares to and from Lerwick for councillor Grains, a non-driver, to partake in Town Hall meetings.

“I’m probably the only non-driver in the council,” she said. “I need to make arrangements to get to Lerwick to do the job, and I don’t have access to a bus.”

She said she had “never got round” to taking her driving test in her younger days, and considered herself too old to start taking lessons now.

Asked if she considered car-sharing with fellow members, the Whiteness resident said one of the West Side councillors stayed in Gruting, while the other lived in Lerwick. She insisted: “None of the money goes in my pocket. I don’t get a penny out of it.”

Also high on the list was vice-convener Josie Simpson. His extensive claim form reached £14,112.98 – £3,352.80 of which was for mileage allowance.

That was second only to fellow North Isles member Robert Henderson, who claimed £5,038.60 for the miles he clocked up during the year.

Keeping a check on other expenses helped keep his total down to £6,477.29, however.

Town councillor Gussie Angus claimed £7,054.68. He said as the SIC’s European spokesman most of his expenses were to cover this brief. “The expenses accrued is on essential council business,” he said.

North Mainland councillor Alastair Cooper claimed £5,587.37 – £2,897.61 was for mileage.

In comparison, fellow Shetland North councillor Bill Manson entered a claim totalling £842.92. He did not claim for mileage.

However Jonathan Wills and Caroline Miller vied for bottom place, with councillor Wills claiming £571.88 to councillor Miller’s £359.39.


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