Councillors’ attendance records as well as their pay, allowances and expenses have been revealed in figures released by the council today.
It is the first time the SIC has issued members’ record of attendance at meetings and the figures reveal that in the 2013/14 financial year, two Lerwick South councillors were the lowest attenders.
Jonathan Wills’ council calendar included 38 meetings, but he actually went to 22, an attendance record of 58 per cent. Next lowest was Amanda Westlake, on 59 per cent. She went to 33 out of a possible 56 meetings. Neither were available for comment when The Shetland Times attempted to contact them.
The highest attender was Shetland South councillor George Smith, with 100 per cent attendance at 57 meetings. Fellow Shetland South councillor Billy Fox was next with 97 per cent, only having missed two of 73 meetings, with North Isles councillor Gary Cleaver also only missing two of his 46 possible meetings, giving him 96 per cent attendance.
Other councillors scoring 90 per cent or more were Mark Burgess, Alastair Cooper, Steven Coutts, Allison Duncan, Vaila Wishart and Cecil Smith.
The figures show that Shetland South councillors posted the best record, 97 per cent, while Lerwick South was the lowest on 73 per cent.
Convener Malcolm Bell went to 37 out of 48 meetings, making 77 per cent, while council political leader Gary Robinson clocked up 66 per cent attendance with 52 meetings out of 79.
Councillors’ salaries and expenses have also been published with members costing a combined total of £488,196.61.
Mr Robinson had a salary of just over £27,000, plus nearly £17,000 in expenses, giving him the highest total of just over £44,000. His expenses included £1,303.60 in mileage; £4,624.83 subsistence; £894.48 telephone and ICT and £ 10,147.65 “other expenses”.
Chairman of Shetland College board Drew Ratter, whose meeting attendance record stood at 70 per cent, came next, with a combined total of £31,242 including £2,690.10 mileage; £ 1,923.77 subsistence; £ 961.78 telephone and ICT and £ 5,349.11 other.
Mr Ratter said his absences and expenses could be explained by his attendance at University of the Highlands and Islands meetings on the mainland, as well as attending the Committee of Peripheral Maritime Regions in Europe.
His expense claim was followed by that of Mr Bell, whose total came to £30,313.
The two lowest claims were from Mr Burgess and Davie Sandison, who both took home £16,551. Mr Sandison said: “I have a full-time job in Lerwick so I don’t need mileage, and I earn a full-time living so I don’t tend to claim for minor expenses.” He added that he had “no problem” with the expenses claimed by other councillors.
The basic salary of a councillor who is not a chairman of a committee is £16,252.
• After this story was published Dr Wills replied to the newspaper (see comment below).
• Full details and a table of councillors’ attendance and expenses claims will appear in The Shetland Times, 6th June edition.