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I think that Trevor Lunn is far too young to be stepping down from local government, but if that is his choice, so be it.
For some time, I have been engaging with Paul Goggins, who is responsible for elections, by-elections, co-options and so on. We have been trying to come to an arrangement that would allow us to proceed with severance arrangements. Paul Goggins has put forward proposals that will be put to public consultation. The proposals will enable us to proceed with some form of severance arrangements in the next financial year; in other words, the last year of the existing councils. That is something that we will most likely proceed with.
I am sympathetic to the notion of severance pay for retiring councillors. The media questioned me earlier on that issue. Sometimes, I cannot get over the level of resentment towards giving a retiring councillor £15,000 or £20,000, and yet nobody cares about senior officers on councils getting £200,000 or £300,000.
I have huge respect for people who served in local government with, on many occasions, very few responsibilities, at great risk to themselves, and at great loss to their families over a long period of time. Many of those people, across the parties, are the salt of the earth and did it purely for public service. Given that almost a quarter of council places are being lost, I am fully convinced that many of the councillors who wish to retire, having given such good service, are as entitled to some form of compensation as the senior directors who will be losing their jobs as a result of the review of local government. I make no apologies for that.
(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr Molloy] in the Chair)