Scots councils golden goodbyes will cost £7m

15 Feb 07
More than a third of Scotland's councillors are to stand down at the May elections after being offered a 'golden goodbye' deal of up to £20,000, at an estimated total cost of more than £7m.

16 February 2007

More than a third of Scotland's councillors are to stand down at the May elections after being offered a 'golden goodbye' deal of up to £20,000, at an estimated total cost of more than £7m.

Figures released this week by the Scottish Executive show that 434 councillors, many of them Labour, have opted for the deal offered by ministers in advance of the first council elections using proportional representation.

In Glasgow City, Scotland's biggest local authority, 24 of the city's 79 councillors have opted for the scheme while in Fife 35 of the council's 78 councillors are to go.

Under the scheme, councillors with at least four years and up to 10 years service will receive £10,000. Those with more than 10 but less than 15 years will get £15,000 while councillors with 15 years or more service qualify for the maximum payment of £20,000.

Severance payments were introduced by the Executive as a means of recognising the long service of many councillors and encouraging a broader and younger range of people to stand for their local councils.

However, it was criticised by opposition parties as a 'bribe' to win the support of Labour councillors, many of whom were initially opposed to PR.

Details of the response to the scheme, given by the Executive this week, were limited to a list of names for each of the 32 councils. However, no information was given about the sums they will receive or the political affiliations of retiring councillors.

The Scottish Conservatives have accused the Executive's Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition of a 'cover-up.' The party's finance spokesman, Derek Brownlee, said: 'If taxpayers don't have a right to say no to these payments they should have a right to know how much they are.'

An Executive spokesman said McCabe had decided it was a matter for councils and it would not be appropriate for him to publish the information. A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said the Executive had fulfilled its agreement to fund a one-off payment as part of its commitment to renewing local democracy.

He added: 'It is an operational matter for individual councils if they wish to give out any more details on their own elected members.'

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