THREE Labour councillors are to donate their increase in annual allowance to Dial A Ride in protest against cuts to council services.

Barrie Thompson, Steve Allsopp and Fay Howard, all councillors for the Parks, have taken the stance over proposals to cut the Dial A Ride budget by £20,000.

The planned cuts are to go before Swindon Council's cabinet tonight.

"We are upset with seeing any cuts to services, but especially those which affect the most vulnerable people," said Coun Thompson.

"Whenever cuts come from government, whether it is national or local, it always seems to be the poor who suffer.

"And, as far as the three of us are concerned, we serve one of the most deprived wards in the town and we know that Dial A Ride is used regularly by elderly and disabled people in the Parks and East Walcot.

"We want to indicate to people that we are against the increase in allowances and although we will accept it, we will donate the increase to Dial A Ride to offset its £20,000 deficit."

Conservative councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of the 18.65 per cent rise in their allowances at last month's full council meeting.

Of the total allowance budget, all 59 councillors will each receive a basic £7,250 an increase of around £250 before tax.

But, under the proposals, put forward by the Swindon Independent Remuneration Panel, council leader Mike Bawden is set to net an additional £5,500 a year with several of his colleagues also pocketing substantial allowance increases.

These are increases which Coun Thompson says are grossly unfair.

He added: "If you are going to ask people to do a public job you should expect them to be paid, but what gets up my nose is when cabinet members are getting increases of up to £5,000.

"Back bench councillors put in just as many hours and are getting very little, yet these increases are at the expense of council services."

Coun Andy Harrison (Penhill) quit the Labour group last month after his colleagues failed to support his motion of a 12-month allowance freeze and he reiterated his intention to donate his allowance increase.

"I've said all along I don't support the increases and I will give my £200 or so to a community group or local school."

But Coun Nick Martin (Con, Shaw and Nine Elms), the council's cabinet member for resources, said the goodwill gesture was nothing more than a gimmick.

He said: "It sounds like a publicity stunt to me. Dial A Ride will be receiving a substantial sum of money - £280,000 - from the council and we aim to help them to achieve an even better service for the elderly and disabled people they help."