Conservative councillor who claimed £14,000 in expenses and allowances stuns public debate with aggressive ‘Donald Trump-style’ rant saying “I’m not giving my pay rise back’

Calls are growing for the resignation of councillor David Barnard.

Calls are growing for the resignation of councillor David Barnard. - Credit: Daniel Wilson

A Conservative councillor who has claimed nearly £14,000 in expenses and allowances aggressively railed against criticism of the pay rise he voted himself – prompting derision of his ‘Donald Trump-like’ behaviour tonight.

Councillor David Barnard, who received a basic allowance of £4,500, along with a ‘Special Responsibility Allowance’ of £7,875, as well as claiming ‘Travel and Subsistence’ expenses of a further £1,426.65 for the tax year 2015/16 derisively slammed public opinion tonight calling for him and fellow Conservative councillors to return the money in Letchworth.

In an astonishingly angry diatribe Mr Barnard, who represents the ward of Hitchwood, Offa and Hoo, shouted loudly, pointed aggressively and threateningly during his rant – stunning those assembled to debate North Herts District Council’s 2017/18 budget at a public meeting held at the town’s historic Spirella building.

A visibly distressed Mr Barnard thundered defiantly: “I will not be giving my pay rise back.”

Referring to previous Comet stories about the contentious pay rises of between 11 and 19 per cent which Conservative councillors voted themselves, Mr Barnard shouted aggressively about ‘the local rag’ angrily pointing his finger at the media desk in an apparent loss of control.

In an interview granted exclusively to the Comet last month the chairman of the council, Lynda Needham, talking about Mr Barnard’s five-figure expenses and allowances, said: “Councillor Barnard has more than one responsibility position which the members have voted him in. He was the chairman of the planning committee and chairman of the southern rural committee – he has to devote the time and the reading to make sure he does the jobs responsibly.”

During the debate on the district council having to find more than £7 million worth of savings up to 2020/21 North Herts Labour leader Frank Radcliffe told Mrs Needham: “I keep hearing the word delivery but it’s all about cutting costs.

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“This administration has failed to deliver so many projects – Churchgate, the town hall - sports clubs and community groups are threatened.

“Why have Conservatives voted themselves a pay rise of more than 10 per cent when their staff get one per cent?

“It epitomises what is wrong with North Herts Distict Council”

Long-serving Labour councillor Judi Billing added: “It’s never a good idea to attack the press or judiciary – it’s a very Donald Trump-like thing to do.”

Hitcin resident Gail Adcock tweeted during the debate: “More evidence we are definitely not in this together!”