Minister criticises Barnet Council's pay rises

Councillor Brian Coleman
Image caption Councillor Brian Coleman said the rises were 'sensible'

A Conservative cabinet member has rounded on a Tory-run north London council after it decided to award leading figures allowance rises.

Barnet Council is boosting its leader's income from £41,893 to £47,027 and that of executive members by 38%.

It comes as public sector workers endure a two-year pay freeze while national cabinet members took a 5% cut.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps urged the council to think again. The council has made no comment.

But Mr Shapps said: "This country has an enormous deficit.

"I find it quite disturbing they should be taking pay rises - I urge them to think again.

"Which planet are they living on? For goodness sake show some leadership."

'Sensible' move

Barnet councillor Kate Salinger (Conservative) voted against the rises.

"It was a policy I disagreed with and could not in conscience vote for," she said.

"Councils should be leading by example. I don't think our example is very good."

Allowances act as a wage for elected officials to compensate them for their time.

The allowance hikes were due to be even higher until a decision taken by the councillors at a meeting on Tuesday night.

Public sector trade union Unison called the rises "disgusting".

The council has declined to make an official comment.

But Councillor Brian Coleman, one of those in line for a rise, called the move "sensible".

Mr Coleman, who also sits on the Greater London Authority, added that 20 other councils in London have done the same.

The row comes after Croydon Council in south London backed down on plans to award similar allowance rises to its members.

Top councillors agreed to increase the council leader's allowance by £12,000. But they later decided to postpone the rise by two years.

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