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Highland councillors’ expenses claims top £130,000


By Gregor White

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Council leader Raymond Bremner claimed the most back in expenses of all Highland councillors over the past year. Picture: James Mackenzie
Council leader Raymond Bremner claimed the most back in expenses of all Highland councillors over the past year. Picture: James Mackenzie

Inflation may have pushed up Highland councillors’ expenses this year, with the total for reimbursement claims by elected members for 2023/24 topping £130,000.

Across mileage, meals, phone, accommodation and other costs a total of £131,936.05 was claimed back.

That compares to £120,068 for 2022/ 23 - a less significant rise than that between 2022/23 and 2021/22 when total claims amounted to just £38,494.

By far the largest claims among members were for mileage, with a total of £89,517.75 claimed.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given his wide ranging responsibilities as leader of the council, the biggest single claimant was Caithness member Raymond Bremner on a total of £11,317.55.

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He was followed by council convener Bill Lobban who claimed £7055.52, then Skye councillor Ruraidh Stewart with claims totalling £6787.13.

Cllr Bremner was the only councillor to make a claim for reimbursement against conference costs - £600 - while most of his claims were for mileage - £5885.40.

In that latter category the next two biggest c;laimants were Skye councillor and education committee chairman John Finlayson (£4810.95) and another Caithness member, Andrew Jarvie (£4765.95).

For accommodation Cllr Bremner claimed £2960.81, ahead of yet another Caithness member, Karl Rosie (£2664.17) and Skye councillor Drew Millar (£1439.21).

The total claimed for accommodation by all councillors was £19,005.64.

While no councillor made a claim for surgery costs most looked for some reimbursement of phone and mobile costs, with Cllr Lobban making the largest claim, for £608.11, followed by Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh member Christopher Birt (£575.64) and Marianne Hutchison (North, West and Central Sutherland) claiming back £542.14.

Maintaining the position he has taken every year since being elected to Highland Council in 2009 opposition leader Alasdair Christie made no expenses claims at all.

In that he was joined by Tain and Easter Ross member Derek Louden and Cromarty Firth’s Pauline Munro.


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