THE leader of Brighton and Hove City Council has suggested he and his colleagues should be given full-time salaries so they do a better job.
Jason Kitcat said the move was needed to compete with seaside cities like Barcelona and Sydney.
However opposition leaders have hit back saying that the move would create career politicians and be costly for the taxpayer.
In an interview with the Association of Green Councillors magazine, Coun Kitcat said it was time to rethink our “amateur model of local government politicians”.
He said: “I’m ambitious for Brighton and Hove and compare us to Barcelona, Vancouver, Sydney. Their city leaders are full-time politicians with the resources to really deliver.
“Too many good councillors in our group have only been able to last one term because of huge difficulties they’ve had in balancing their time commitments along with the financial struggles associated with councillor allowances – which by the way, are tiny by international comparisons.”
Coun Kitcat receives £40,221 a year in his role as leader.
Regular councillors receive a £11,463 basic allowance. Committee chairs receive an extra £10,967, deputy leaders £17,254 and the leader of the council £28,758.
Councillors also receive travel and subsistence allowance and dependant carer’s allowance.
He added: “Paying politicians more is not exactly a populist position, I know, and I’m not complaining about my personal lot. “But commission after commission raises these issues with English local government representation – and yet no solution is in sight.”
Councillors generally have a day job and work part-time in town halls.
Traditionally this has been seen as an advantage as everyday members of the puplic can bring their experience to the role – while limiting the cost to the public.
Gill Mitchell, Labour group leader on the council, said she was “saddened” that the Green leader appeared to have such a low opinion of “amateur” councillors. She said: “Professionalising the role and turning it into a career would change the profile of serving councillors who come from all walks of life and bring a common sense and local knowledge.” Geoffrey Theobald, Conservative group leader, said: “The whole point of having amateur councillors is that you get community representatives with a wide range of experiences.”
Speaking to The Argus, Coun Kitcat said: “100 years ago MPs were unpaid. We have Swedish councillors come over for training and can’t believe it. They accuse us of doing democracy on the cheap. I’m pleased the issue is being discussed.”