A Burntwood councillor has admitted he is “not fussed” by seeing his allowance docked for missing more than a quarter of meetings – and said his record was good by singer Meatloaf’s standards.
Any members of Lichfield District Council who miss 75% of meetings face having the equivalent of a month’s worth of allowance docked.
The move is designed to combat poor attendance by councillors, an issue which came under the spotlight again after it emerged that just 13 out of 47 turned up to an annual meeting on social housing matters.
But in an email to colleagues seen by LichfieldLive, Conservative Councillor Richard Mosson said he was unconcerned by the possible docking of his annual £4,090 basic allowance – but added he may now only do “the minimum requirement” as a result.
“I am not really fussed about losing the month’s allowance,” he wrote.
“As a high rate tax payer like others it makes a very small allowance even smaller. So it does not bother me other than for those occasions where I have stressed and rushed from wherever I have been in the UK to get to a crazy 6pm meeting time a couple of minutes late or just about bang on time.
“I don’t think I’ll bother in future and simply ensure I make the minimum requirement.”
Figures from 2015/16 show that Cllr Mosson picked up allowances of £6,279.53 for the various elements of his role on the council.
But in his email, Cllr Mosson, who represents the Summerfield and All Saints ward, objected to being “named and shamed”.
He explained: “Having had 71% attendance myself I don’t see this as half bad considering the commitment I and others have to make while holding down a full time day job. That’s just over seven out of ten meetings in my book.
“Even Meatloaf said two our of three weren’t [sic] bad – that’s 66.6%.
“Despite trying my best as others who work have clearly done in just failing to hit 75%, I am now to be named and shamed in the local media. Thanks for that, well done Lichfield District Council.”
Cllr Mosson told LichfieldLive that his email to colleagues had highlighted issues with the system used to measure the attendance of elected representatives.
“There is a major difference in the number of meetings that each of us have to attend,” he said. “For example those on the planning committee have to attend a much higher number of meetings.
“I sit on planning as well as two other committees and have attended 17 out of 24 meetings over the last year. Had I simply attended one more I would have been over the 75% threshold.
“Should I be named and shamed though? Many councillors only have to attend a few meetings per year, therefore it’s far easier to hit the 75% threshold as some will be as low as five or eight meetings in a year.
“I accept the fact that the Independent Remuneration Panel recommendation was accepted by council, However, in hindsight there should have been more thought into the mechanics of how this system works.”
Cllr Mosson added that the scheme was weighted towards those members who took on less responsibilities – and said he didn’t believe financial punishment would improve attendance at meetings.
“Many councillors work full time and in addition to Lichfield District Council commitments, many also have parish commitments, businesses to run and many of us also have families.
“The allowance is relatively small therefore the loss does not impact on me personally and my wish to be a councillor has never been about the allowance – it is simply to try and give a little back, and I sincerely hope that these allowances deducted are given to a worthy local charity or charities.
“I have suggested that in the case of those councillors who have had a high number of meetings to attend – and have just fallen short due to work or other commitments – the effectiveness of an allowance reduction at the end of year does little to increase attendance as it’s not about the money.
“Having attended a relatively high number of meetings compared to peers, this system means you can be penalised by merely sitting on the wrong committee.
“The next time the day job is calling for more of my time and it’s a choice of pleasing the boss or ensuring I hit a 75% attendance record, which I might not quite achieve anyway, then the boss wins – he pays me the salary that ultimately pays my mortgage.”