‘Gremlins’ to sort in selecting East Midlands mayor’s new deputy and their pay

Mayor of the East Midlands, Claire Ward, signs the declaration alongside chief officer of EMCCA Mark Rogers
Mayor of the East Midlands, Claire Ward, signs the declaration alongside chief officer of EMCCA Mark Rogers
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

The new mayor of the East Midlands says there are “gremlins” to sort out in the rules which created the new position before she can select her deputy and their allowances.

Claire Ward (Lab) chaired her first meeting of the East Midlands Combined County Authority (EMCCA) on Monday, June 17, at Broxtowe Borough Council’s HQ.

During the meeting her allowance was set at £93,000 per year, and her deputy is expected to be paid between £18,000 and £46,500 depending on their responsibilities.

However Ms Ward said should would not be appointing a deputy until the next board meeting which takes place on September 16, due to the pre-election period of sensitivity.

“I haven’t made any appointments to deputy or portfolio holders for the very clear reason, and this would be the meeting to do that, given the General Election period – given that we have two members who have, perhaps, interests in that election.

“I don’t think purdah (the pre-election period) would have been a good time in which to make appointments.

“For that reason I have decided appointments will be presented at the September board meeting.”

Under current regulations, if a current leader of a council in volved in the new area authority is chosen by Ms Ward to be her deputy, they cannot receive an allowance.

Cllr Ben Bradley (Con), the leader of the constituent Nottinghamshire County Council, said this may prove to be a problem.

The regulations further state the deputy mayor cannot have an overall allowance which is more than the leader of one of the constituent councils.

However, if a deputy leader of a council is selected for the role, they may receive an allowance on top of what they receive in their existing position.

Cllr Bradley said: “It is a little bit nonsensical. If half the members of [EMCCA] were the deputy leader they could be paid a significant amount, but the other half [council leaders] would have to do it for free.

“That doesn’t make a great lot of sense to me.”

Ms Ward said: “I think there may be things in due course we may want to get changed in legislation.

“I think one of the things you have identified is that we have an increasingly small pool of people who can do the work of a deputy, and be remunerated for that role, across the region.

“Should I decide to appoint a leader [of a council] the responsibility for remuneration would fall upon their constituent council, which does not to me seem fair or right at all.

“I think there are some gremlins in some of the legislation that have not quite worked.”

Cllr Paul Peacock (Lab), the leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, added: “It feels like the appointment of deputy mayor makes no sense that it absolutely restricts you to who you could appoint as deputy mayor or who any future mayor could appoint.

“It feels to me restricting it to constituent members is too restrictive; even to the point of why does it have to be a politician?

“How quickly can we look at the [legislation] and all those little bits that aren’t going to work quite right for us, and how do we go about changing them?”

Ms Ward replied: “I think there will be areas that we would want to see change in legislation.

“It is a fair point to raise that councils and respective deputies are different, for example, than police and crime commissioners who can appoint whoever they choose and don’t have to do so through a restrictive pool of people.

“That may well be an issue in due course.”

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