Sizewell C: Councillor calls for ‘openness and transparency’ over forum chairman’s pay
14:00 17 December 2012
A SUFFOLK county councillor is calling for the amount being paid to the chairman of the Sizewell C Community Forum to be disclosed.
The body, funded by EDF Energy, has been set up as part of efforts to consult the community about the impact of the power station project.
Richard Smith, county councillor for Aldeburgh and Leiston, is the former chairman of the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG), the liaison group for Sizewell A and B issues, a role for which he received a £5,000 a year honorarium.
He believes the amount being paid by EDF to Brian Stewart, chairman of the Sizewell C forum, should be made public in the cause of “openness and transparency”.
Mr Smith raised the issue at a meeting of the forum but Mr Stewart, former chief executive of the East of England Regional Assembly, declined to reveal the amount of money involved.
Although he had a background in the public sector, where salaries were made public, the Sizewell C role was not part of the public sector, Mr Stewart said.
Tom McGarry, Sizewell C communications officer, told the meeting that the funding arrangement was a private matter and EDF would not divulge details “between one party and another”.
However, for guidance, the salary was in line with that paid to the chair of the SSG.
Mr Smith said after the meeting that he would be asking EDF – “in the spirit of openness and transparency to which they aspire” – to agree to an independent person, acceptable to both the company and himself, to confirm the amount being paid.
“This will preserve the confidentiality of Brian Stewart’s pay arrangements and give me, and the forum, the assurances that what we have been told is accurate,” he said.
An EDF spokeswoman said: “EDF Energy provides the funding and secretarial support for the community forum. This includes meeting the costs of the independent chairman.
“This funding arrangement is a personal, confidential issue between ourselves and the chairman, but is arranged through a separate company to ensure it does not impinge upon his independence or his ability to carry out his role effectively.”