Councillors’ severance pay ‘immoral’

Billy Webb
Billy Webb

Newtownabbey Alliance councillor Billy Webb has described the severance scheme offered to elected representatives as “immoral”.

Beginning at the start of August councillors who decide to stand down could be in line for a payment of up to £35,000 under a severance scheme brought in by the previous Environment Minister Alex Attwood.

Councillor Billy Webb has said he and his party do not support the scheme.

He said: “Whilst I understand the minister’s intention is to encourage new blood into councils I do not agree with the way he has gone about it by the introduction of a severance scheme.

“Councillors were not elected with the assumption of, or contractual right to, a severance payment should they decide not to stand for the next election.

“I consider this to be an unnecessary exercise and a waste of money, particularly when so many of our ratepayers are finding it difficult to manage in today’s economic climate.”

He added: “If I decided not to stand in the next election, and it is my intention to stand, I would be entitled to a tax free amount of £11,200.

“I, and the Alliance Party do not support this scheme and I would consider it immoral to accept any payment.”

The then Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, earlier this month said the one-off scheme was designed to recognise long-serving councillors.

The scheme was approved following a period of consultation.

Mr Attwood said: “I believe, and it has been widely accepted, that it is right to acknowledge these councillors as they leave council life.”