FIVE of the top ten highest paid councillors in the year to May’s council elections were from Caerphilly county borough.

Figures released from each of the five Gwent councils show that almost £4.5 million was claimed by councillors in allowances and expenses across Gwent in a year running to last May’s elections.

The figure is around the same as in 2010/11, with several councils having frozen the allowances they pay their councillors. Some councillors in some authorities have chosen to take smaller allowances.

For the current 2012/13 new rules from the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales mean members are being paid set allowances, taking the decision for whether they go up or down out of the political arena.

Former councillor Allan Pritchard of Plaid Cymru and Caerphilly council leader was the biggest earner of all the region’s councillors.

Mr Pritchard took home £45,325.31, which included his special responsibility allowance of £32,295.11 on top of his basic salary of £13,030.20.

Cllr Peter Fox, Tory leader of Monmouthshire council, earned £44,597.02, more than former Tory Newport council leader Cllr Matthew Evans’ allowances of £43,983.45.

Cllr Bob Wellington, Labour leader of Torfaen council, earned £42,707.73.

In Monmouthshire a total of £55,972 was claimed in travel expenses in the rural county, with Cllr Fox claiming the most at £3,835.

That’s compared to £8,806 in Caerphilly, £5,407 in Torfaen, £3,919 in Blaenau Gwent and £280.35 in Newport.

The leader to earn the least was Cllr John Mason. He took over after Des Hillman resigned in October 2011, and earned £33,800.33.

Caerphilly – a relatively big council – had the largest allowances and expenses bill of the five local authorities at £1.2 million. Blaenau Gwent paid the least with £778,822 claimed – it is the smallest of the five councils.

In Newport £862,196 was claimed, while £819,965 and £803,399 was claimed in Monmouthshire and Torfaen respectively.

Councillors can claim a basic salary, which is around £13,000, while cabinet members and councillors who sit on committees can receive an additional allowance.

Members are also entitled to claim expenses for travel, care for dependant children and adults, food and overnight stays.

In some cases members had chosen to accept smaller allowances.

Top ten councillors and former councillors are:

  • Allan Pritchard, Caerphilly, £45,325.31
  • Peter Fox, Monmouthshire, £44,597.02
  • Matthew Evans, Newport, £43,983.45
  • Bob Wellington, Torfaen, £42,707.73
  • John Mason, Blaenau Gwent, £33,800.38
  • Colin Mann, Caerphilly, £32,644.50
  • Liz Hacket Pain, Monmouthshire, £32,420.56
  • Rob Gough, Caerphilly, £30,685.50
  • Ron Davies, Caerphilly, £30,677.85
  • Colin Hobbs, Caerphilly, £30,541.80