Row over £30,000 salary for new Copeland mayor

Copeland Borough Council office Image copyright Google
Image caption On 7 May people in Copeland will vote for a new mayor who will replace the council leader

A row has erupted in Cumbria about how much a new mayor should be paid.

Copeland Borough Council said the mayor, who will be elected on 7 May to cover the district in western Cumbria, will be paid £30,000.

But critics say the figure, £20,000 less than an independent panel recommended, will fail to attract quality candidates.

Councillors said the mayor should not earn more than the council leader, especially as savings are needed.

At the same time as voters take to the polls in the general and local elections, people in Copeland, a borough which includes part of the Lake District and the town of Whitehaven, will replace their council leader - chosen by councillors - with a directly elected mayor.

Robert Cooper, political correspondent BBC Cumbria

The row over the mayor's salary has impassioned arguments on both sides.

Those in favour of setting it at £30,000 argue the mayor will not have any powers and responsibilities above that of the council leader.

They also point out the salary will be reviewed in a year's time when the role of mayor will be more well defined.

But critics say the recommended £50,000 would still have been less than any other mayor in the UK and that a good salary is needed to attract a candidate who can make a difference.

Carla Arrighi, who campaigned for the new mayoral system, questioned the proposed salary.

"It's absolutely disgraceful, how can they expect somebody to give up a full-time job - which they would have to do - and pension for four years for £30,000?" she said.

The council's leader currently receives about £30,000 and councillors said it would be wrong for the new mayor to be paid £20,000 more.

Labour councillor George Clements said the salary could be reviewed after 12 months and was "more prudent, which is what we've got to be".

Three people have put themselves forward for the mayoral election. The deadline for applications is 9 April.

See more on this story on Sunday Politics at 11:00 on BBC One on 29 March.

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