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Council / Councillors’ salaries and expenses below half a million pounds

LOCAL democracy in Shetland continues to cost the public purse around half a million pounds a year.

The latest set of annual figures for salaries and expenses of the islands’ 22 councillors show that £412,500 was paid in salaries during 2019/20 plus nearly £60,000 in expenses.

The overall cost was largely unchanged compared to last year when the overall figure was £462,000.

SIC convener Malcolm Bell Photo: Shetland News

Unsurprisingly, Shetland’s most ‘expensive’ councillors are leader Steven Coutts (basic salary £29,118.96) and council convener Malcolm Bell (£21,840).

SIC leader Steven Coutts: Photo: Shetland News

The convener also clocked up more than £16,000 in expenses, mainly in allowances and expenses while away from Shetland on council business.

The total number of council meetings was down from the previous year (69 from 97), largely due to the introduction of a new committee cycle with more focused reporting to scheduled meetings. There were 71 meetings in 2017/18.

Lerwick north councillor Steven Leask and south mainland member George Smith came out top of the list when it came to the number of meetings attended, with Leask present at 50 out of 54 and Smith attending 50 out of 53.

Amanda Hawick attended all of her 19 meetings and Stephen Flaws – who was elected on 7 November 2019 – was present at all 11 of his possible meetings.

Other councillors, mainly those with full time jobs such as Alec Priest, Duncan Anderson and Andrea Manson, were absent from a notable amount of meetings.

Convener Malcolm Bell said: “Last financial year, we continued to see an increase in the amount of business conducted remotely.

“The picture will obviously be very different this year, but we will work hard to make sure Shetland’s interests are represented at a national level.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues once more for the time and effort they commit to serving our community.”

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