Making allowances for our councillors

I M incensed that at a time of economic crisis, when North Herts District Council (NHDC) is faced with the hardest budget to balance in living memory , councillors voted against a freeze on their allowances. The idea of a freeze, proposed by the Lib Dems

I'M incensed that at a time of economic crisis, when North Herts District Council (NHDC) is faced with "the hardest budget to balance in living memory", councillors voted against a freeze on their allowances.

The idea of a freeze, proposed by the Lib Dems, was thrown out by a large majority in a free vote, and a 2.45 per cent rise was accepted instead.

This ill-advised move spectacularly failed to show solidarity with those facing economic difficulties, called for by the Lib Dems. Many North Herts residents face the prospect of no wage increase whatsoever this year.

Of course councillors deserve some sort of recompense for their time and effort, but an increase in their allowances is a bitter pill to swallow during the current economic climate.

And what makes it worse is that efficiencies in the new budget, announced at the end of January, include NHDC increasing its income from car parking charges.

Surely the council's priority during the economic downturn should be to encourage residents to shop in town centres in North Herts, and offering free or cheaper parking is an obvious way to do this? It was only at Christmas that NHDC was offering free parking to shoppers during the weekends in December, precisely to increase trade in the area. Perhaps some councillors only have three-second memories, in which case I hardly think they deserve a 2.45 per cent allowance increase, whatever state the country's economy is in.