COUNCILLORS will get a pay hike in 2009/10 despite calls for them to set an example to residents and refuse the rise.

At a full council meeting last night Conservative and Labour councillors voted to go ahead with plans to raise councillor allowances for the next financial year.

This was despite pleas from Lib Dem and independent councillors to turn down the money.

The basic allowance received by all councillors, set at £7,611 for 2008/09, is to be index linked to the increases in the Local Government Pay Settlement for 2009/10.

There will also be a hike in special responsibility allowances and allowances for parish councillors.

Coun David Glaholm (Indpt, Penhill) asked the leader of the council, Rod Bluh, to agree that taking the proposed increase would send out the wrong signal to the public.

Coun Bluh responded that the cabinet had only recommended a portion of the increases suggested by an independent remuneration panel.

Other suggestions, including an IT allowance and extra money for Chairs of Overview and Scrutiny committees, were rejected by the cabinet.

Coun Bluh said: “The challenging times in which we find ourselves, especially given the low level of formula grant we receive despite the borough’s needs, call for positive leadership, not political gestures.”

Lib Dem leader, Stan Pajak, also raised his objections to the increase, calling for councillors to block the proposals.

He said: “Times are hard and here is an opportunity to lead by example.

“Although this may not have a great effect it shows people that we are doing something.”

But Coun Bluh insisted that to opt out of increases now would see the council playing catch-up in the years to come.

He said: “A lot of people are putting in a great deal of hard work and I think the recommendations are reasonable given the climate that we are in.”

Swindon Council allocated £689,000 from its 2008/09 budget for councillors’ services. This included £449,000 for the basic allowances and £240,851 for other allowances, such as the Mayor and those with special responsibilities.

A further £17,100 was allocated for councillors’ training and development.