‘Share the mayor role, don’t scrap it’, say Sunderland Conservatives
Sunderland Conservatives have called for the mayor to be “shared” between political groups on the city council.
At last week’s annual council meeting, city Liberal Democrats called for the post to scrapped in a bid to cut costs.
Currently, the Mayor of Sunderland can claim an annual special responsibility allowance (SRA) of £17,205 plus expenses.
This is in addition to £8,369 basic allowance available to all 75 councillors on the authority.
While the council’s Conservative group have defended the role, they still believe the annual allowance should cut.
Conservative group leader, Coun Robert Oliver, said: “Past holders of the office have done a lot of good work for the city through charity fundraising and representing the city on the national and world stage but the position needs to change.
“In other councils, such as Newcastle, the position is shared among the political groups in proportion to their strength on the council and this needs to happen in Sunderland after the last local elections.
“The Labour group are keeping the position for themselves every year even though they have just lost ten councillors so it is time that it is offered to the opposition groups in line with their support.”
At the 2019/20 budget meeting, Lib Dems made calls to replace the mayor with an unpaid chairperson and deputy- a proposal which was voted down.
Coun Robert Oliver has since described this idea as a “non-starter”.
The move, he added, would “leave the city without a prestigious representative to meet national and foreign visitors replaced by a dull chairperson of the council.”
Labour council leader, Graeme Miller, also stressed the Mayoral role is here to stay.
“This is another example of how Sunderland City Council is in a safe hands with Labour, when the Lib Dems want to scrap the Mayor and the Tories demand we impose austerity on the position,” he said.
“The city’s Tories are aware that we are reviewing all allowances paid to councillors, and the Mayoral allowance will form a part of that review.
“Tough decisions continue to be required as we move Sunderland City Council forward, and like we said to the Lib Dems last week, this is something that we’d be happy to debate with them in the council chamber rather than play it out in the media.”
Coun David Snowdon is the new Mayor of Sunderland for 2019/20.
Along with his wife Dianne, also a city councillor, he will support Washington MIND and Veterans in Crisis Sunderland during the year.
Outgoing Mayor of Sunderland, Lynda Scanlan, along with consort Micky Horswill, raised around £32,000 for designated charities.
This included Sunderland and County Durham Society for the Blind, Hope Spring, which works with vulnerable young people and the NSPCC Childline Service.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service