Sidmouth councillor’s expenses revealed

Allowances and mileage and subsistence total �33,770.24.

SIDMOUTH representative Stuart Hughes has defended claiming more expenses than any other county councillor last year.

The authority’s cabinet member for highways and transportation received �6,345.20 in mileage and subsistence in 2010/11.

This was on top of a special responsibility allowance of �16,455 and basic allowance of �10,970.04- giving a total of �33,770.24.

Councillor Hughes said this week his Devon County Council (DCC) allowances were justified due to his responsibility managing a �100million budget and 8,000 miles of road networks.

DCC leader John Hart claimed �5,012.70 in expenses, while Sidmouth rural representative Roger Giles received just �12.15, according to figures.

Mr Hughes said he hadn’t even claimed the maximum amount for expenses- like petrol, travel, parking and food- incurred while travelling the county and working up to 70 hours a week.

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“So far this month I’ve done nearly 600 miles,” he said.

“Devon has got more miles of road network than Belgium- that puts it (expenses) in perspective. I wish I could cycle everywhere but I can’t.

“My job involves me driving right round the county. I’ve got a huge responsibility. There’s nothing untoward in that.

“Things like highways, street lighting, pay and display parking, public rights of way and busses all come under my remit - even coastal area flooding.

“I was elected as a county councillor. Although I represent Sidmouth, I represent the whole county as the cabinet member for highways and transportation.

“I haven’t claimed anything I shouldn’t have claimed for- in fact, I don’t claim up to the maximum and there are a lot of things I don’t claim for at all.”

In the 2009/10 financial year- the most recent figures available- Mr Hughes received �10,582.25 in East Devon District Council (EDDC) allowances and expenses.

Just �38.45 of that was for travel and subsistence.

EDDC said on Wednesday it will publish its councillors’ expenses and allowances for the 2010/11 financial year in the coming weeks. Mr Hughes said his basic and special responsibility allowances, �4,359.96 and �6,183.84 respectively in 2009/10, would be less.

DCC said the cost of paying allowances to councillors has dropped by nearly �100,000 in the last two years.

DCC leader Cllr Hart said: “We promised the people of Devon we would ensure the council was run more efficiently and effectively with a more business-like approach.

“We started by cutting the cost of actually administering the council and the allowances paid to councillors themselves.”