COUNTY councillors have chosen to pay the council chairman and vice-chairman £4,500 more than they could have done during 2014/15.

The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales set three levels of pay for civic and deputy civic leaders but the council has the discretion to choose which level it opts for.

Pembrokeshire County Council director of finance and leisure Mark Lewis had recommended that the chairman and vice chairman’s civic salaries be set at £21,500 and £16,000 respectively for 2014/15. Last year's pay was set at £21,375 and £16,625 respectively.

But at full council last Thursday (May 8), Labour council leader Cllr Paul Miller proposed adopting the lowest option which would have seen the council chairman paid £19,000 and the vice chairman paid £14,000.

“Given the times we are living in and the budget pressures on this authority I think we should go for the cheapest option,” Cllr Miller said. The proposal was seconded by Cllr Tony Wilcox.

Council leader Cllr Jamie Adams said the decision to opt for the middle level was based on Pembrokeshire being a medium-sized authority.

Cllr Miller’s proposal was voted down by 35 votes to 17 with one abstention.

The 2014/15 chairman Cllr Thomas Richards abstained from voting but incoming deputy chairman Cllr Wynne Evans voted against adopting the lower pay.

It was also decided that co-opted members will be paid for a maximum of 10 full days for each committee.

After the meeting Cllr Miller said: “Last week Cllr Adams told us that the budget was on a knife-edge but apparently we can afford an extra £4,500 every year for two councillors pay, despite being unable to afford weekly bin collections, being unable to afford to webcast all council meetings and even being unable to afford to insist that every one of this county’s carers is paid a living wage.

“The Independent Political Group, working together with the Tories, showed exactly where their priorities are on Thursday. The priority is just as it always has been – to look after themselves and their own.”