Councillors cost about £10,000 more in total than previous year

Shetland Islands Council today (Monday) published its annual figures on councillors’ salaries and expenses, as well as attendance at meetings for the 2019/20 financial year.

The highest amount of money was claimed by council leader Steven Coutts, whose £29,118 salary and £11,200 in expenses came in at just over £40,000.

Next came convener Malcolm Bell, with a salary of £21,840 and expenses worth £16,771 amounting to over £38,000.

The lowest amounts were paid to councillors Mark Burgess, Beatrice Wishart, Moraig Lyall and Stephen Flaws, all of whom only served for part of the year, while next lowest with a combined figure of £17,598 were Duncan Anderson (formerly Simpson), Cecil Smith, David Sandison and Catherine Hughson.

The highest attenders at meetings were Stephen Leask and George Smith with 50 out of a possible 54 and 53 respectively.

All councillors missed at least one meeting except for Amanda Hawick and Mr Flaws, who attended 19 out of 19 and 11 out of 11 respectively.

The figures are broken down into a number of elements – remuneration includes salaries (which are set nationally), and expenses such as mileage and subsistence, as well as flight and ferry costs.

Councillors have to submit receipts to reclaim expenses – only those spent on council business, and only up to limits set by the Scottish government.

Any amount over that must be met by the member themselves. Reclaimable expenses also include spending on attendance at meetings within Shetland. The total figure for 2019/20 is £472,122.14, up from £462,458.47 in the previous financial year.

The total number of council meetings was down from the previous year (69 from 97), largely due to the introduction of a new committee cycle with more focused reporting to scheduled meetings. There were 71 meetings in 2017/18.

Mr Bell said: “Last financial year, we continued to see an increase in the amount of business conducted remotely.

“The picture will obviously be very different this year, but we will work hard to make sure Shetland’s interests are represented at a national level.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues once more for the time and effort they commit to serving our community.”


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