A FREEZE on allowances for councillors has been agreed in light of wage cuts for council workers and the furore over MPs’ expenses.

Councillors voted to reject recommendations from the Independent Remuneration Panel to increase allowances and chose to stay with the current rate of £7,709 for 2010/11.

The proposal was supported across the political spectrum with the eventual resolution being put forward by Tory council leader Rod Bluh and supported by Labour leader Derique Montaut.

The only increase in expenditure agreed was a £4,211 special responsibility allowance for the new post of chairman of the audit committee, which is currently Coun Michael Dickinson (Freshbrook and Grange Park).

Coun Montaut said more needed to be done to show the public councillors were providing value for money.

He said: “We have to make a statement to the public or we will end up in a similar situation to what happened nationally. We have managed to avoid the kind of reaction that was given to MPs but we can’t be complacent.

“The decision on setting councillor allowances has to be taken out of the hands of politicians so the public has complete trust.”

Deputy leader Coun Fionuala Foley disagreed that MPs expenses had played a role in making councillors more cautious.

“That was an entirely different matter,” she said.

“For the Conservative party this was about the financial situation.

“The majority of workers are not seeing pay rises and a lot are getting pay cuts so we have a duty to do the right thing – that’s why we recommended a freeze.”

Lib Dem leader Stan Pajak also supported the move, saying his group had called for an allowance freeze in previous years to help safeguard services.

He said: “Politicians have never been so disliked, so I’m sure that was on a lot of people’s minds. We’re more unpopular now than estate agents, maybe even journalists.

“I’m sure people were thinking about MPs’ expenses and the single status debates.

“This was the right decision. I think the council tax payers needed to see some sort of sacrifice. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, it has in the elections.”

Parish councillors will also receive no increase in their allowances.