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The cost of democracy tops £200,000 in Worcester
THE full cost of Worcester's councillors can today be revealed - with the bill smashing through the £200,000 barrier for only the second time in history.
The total bill for the city's 35 elected politicians came to £207,724 in the last financial year.
It is £24 lower than last year's tally, when it hit a record high, but £8,000 more than two years ago.
The costs include £6,857 on IT which follows the launch of a policy where they can claim off taxpayers for internet connections, PCs and other equipment.
It also included £2,280 on travel, most of which paid for them to be whisked away to conferences or council business in other parts of the country.
Despite the six-figure headline sum councillors' allowances in Worcester were frozen last year and remain fairly low compared to other similar-sized cities.
The basic rate of £3,990 is being pegged once again this year after councillors rejected the chance to get an increase.
Of the 35 councillors only nine claimed for travel and subsistence costs over the last year.
Councillor Roger Berry claimed £665 travel as part of total costs of £10,166.
He said: "Some of my travel costs related back to when I was the Mayor of Worcester at the end of the previous year.
"I've also been travelling to some committee meetings outside of Worcester over the last year, to Bromsgrove and Wychavon.
"I'd say overall councillors are pretty good value for money. If people are doing a good job they need to be renumerated."
Councillor Jabba Riaz claimed £331 on travel, for conferences in London, as part of a package of £5,045.
"I still work full-time, 6am until 2pm and manage all my council business outside of that time," he said.
"I can't survive on the money I get for being a councillor, not that it's ever been my intention to do that.
"When I was in the cabinet I often did 40 hours a week on it - I do think if you want to attract a younger set of councillors more consideration is perhaps needed on the hours and allowances."
Elsewhere, Conservative councillor Marc Bayliss claimed no travel but did get £927 for IT, just below the £1,000 maximum, and £9,148 in total.
He said: "The public often think we get a lot more than we do - no councillor goes into politics for the money."
As well as the basic £3,990 rate, 18 councillors got top-ups for taking on special responsibilities like being in the cabinet or chairing a panel.
The add-ons went from £455 for running small committees, to £9,478 for being the leader.
* IN tomorrow's Worcester News we will publish a detailed breakdown of each individual councillors' allowance.
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