Two of Aberdeen’s lowest-claiming councillors have revealed the secret to keeping their expenses down.
New figures had revealed city councillors were paid more than £1 million in salaries and expenses in the last financial year.
Although the total claimed was around £5,000 less than in 2018/19, a total of £1,018,806 was paid out to elected representatives.
Some senior councillors claimed more than £40,000 – much of which was spent on international travel.
However, others’ expenses came in much lower.
SNP councillor Alex McLellan, who represents Tillydrone, Seaton and Old Aberdeen, claimed just £17,522 – £17,470 of which is his basic salary as a councillor.
His expenses amounted to £82 for items such as stamps.
He said: “This is public money at the end of the day and should be treated as though every pound was your own.
“My expenses are, in the main, my phone bill that I use to be accessible to my constituents.
“It’s totally acceptable for folk to claim for postage, stamps and the like that is required to do the job but you have to wonder what the benefit to folk in our city really is with certain folk racking up thousands of pounds on foreign travel.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Greig, representing the Hazlehead, Queen’s Cross and Countesswells ward, was also among the lowest claimers.
His total claims amounted to £17,566, including his salary.
He said: “My only expenses are for the council phone.
“I don’t claim travel costs so whether I have to move around makes no difference to the level of my epxenses.”
He added: “There are a lot of lessons to learn from this lockdown experience. This should be an opportunity to find ways of following greener lifestyles. A key aim should be to reduce fossil fuel consumption with less car journeys. More working from home could be one of the consequences.
“The council’s fondness for international travel to promote economic development has not been supported by clear evidence of any specific benefit. Less foreign travel would not do any harm and will save a lot of money for the public purse.”
Independent councillor John Reynolds was the top claimant last year, claiming back more than £11,000 on top of his £30,000 salary as the council’s economic development spokesman.
Mr Reynolds travelled to destinations including Mexico and Colombia in order to develop economic relationships.
He is also a member of the North Sea Commission, which meets six times a year in Brussels.
And he hopes money can be saved in the future through use of techology.
He said: “I’m hopeful that over the next few years we will be able to use technology that has existed for a long time and save people money on travel.
“I’m not the best flier anyway but it’s necessary for the job.
“I am hopeful we can save quite a bit of money on travel in the coming years.”
Lord Provost Barney Crockett was the second-highest, with £41,806 – although he claimed around £14,000 less than the previous year.
He said: “I have used technology in the last wee while and hope to continue but we need to be going out there and flying the flag.
“I think there will be an element of using technology but I don’t think we will ever fully replace the person to person business.”