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Councillor Richard Butler dismisses Hertsmere Borough Council car perks as 'ridiculous'
Car perks for Hertsmere’s top three officers amounting to around £18,000 a year have been described as "ridiculous" by an opposition politician.
Hertsmere borough councillor Richard Butler has criticised the £6,000 car allowances that the borough council’s most highly paid members of staff each received on top of their salaries last year.
Chief executive Donald Graham takes home a basic salary of £137,000, according to the council’s most recent statement of accounts.
Director of resources Sajida Bijle and director of environment Glen Wooldrige each receive a salary of £94,000.
Cllr Butler has hit out at the extra allowances that have been awarded to the officers on top of their salaries.
The Labour Kenilworth ward representative said: "Why should you need more money for travel expenses? It’s wrong.
"It’s really ridiculous. There are people out there like surgeons who deserve that because they’re saving people’s lives."
He added: "I don’t know if that means greed or stupidity on the council’s part to allow people to have that sort of income."
The council staff choose how they use their car allowance, which can be used to contribute to the costs of other modes of transport, put towards the purchase and running costs of a vehicle or to lease a car.
Council leader Cllr Morris Bright said he is surprised that the issue of staff contracts is being criticised after the Labour group approved the council’s budget earlier this year.
The Conservative politician said: "The Labour group approved the council budget in full. Employees costs are part of this budget."
Councillor Bright added: "The council treats paying conditions of our staff very seriously and we are constantly reviewing the levels of that pay."
However Councillor Butler said the Labour group had actually abstained on some parts of the budget and he himself was not on the council when the chief executive was awarded his job.
He added: "The council officers do excellent work and I am in no way criticising the work they do.
"However we as a small council cannot afford this £6,000 a year."
Council spokesman, Catherine Feast, said: "The chief executive transport allowance forms part of his contract and was agreed by cross-party members, and the annual budget for all allowances was agreed at Full Council.
"It is vital that our chief executive and directors attend numerous external meetings with partner organisations on behalf of the council and its residents.
"It is discretionary how this is used, for example to cover the cost of other modes of transport, to be put towards the purchase and running costs of a vehicle, or to lease a vehicle if that was their preference.
"Allowance packages reflect the responsibilities these roles carry and are included to attract the best candidates possible in what is a highly competitive market."
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