‘Scandalous’ – globally acclaimed film director Ken Loach criticises North Herts Conservative councillors for voting themselves pay rises

Ken Loach in Hitchin. Credit: Kasia Burke

Ken Loach in Hitchin. Credit: Kasia Burke - Credit: Archant

An award-winning film director renowned for his socially-aware films has joined the debate about Conservative councillors in North Herts voting themselves between 11 per cent and 19 per cent pay rises.

Critically-acclaimed director Ken Loach – who visited the town for a screening of his latest film I, Daniel Blake this week after being invited by the North Herts People’s Assembly in association with Hitchin Films – condemned councillors who took the pay rise while North Herts District Council struggles to make savings of more than £7 million up to 2020/21.

Veteran filmmaker Mr Loach – who has directed powerful works such as his 1966 masterpiece Cathy Come Home – expressed concern about the situation.

Speaking exclusively to the Comet, he said: “I think it’s fitting I’ve come to Hitchin as Conservative councillors have voted themselves pay rises of between 11 and 19 per cent.

“I’ve heard about them doing that. It seems to me that austerity is for everyone else and not them?

“If the councillors have so little money they have to go to foodbanks, well, maybe they should have the same pay rises as, say, nurses.

“But until that day comes I don’t think councillors should be voting themselves pay rises.

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“Nurses themselves have had to go to foodbanks to feed themselves and their families. Nurses!

“How scandalous is that?”

The Comet reported Conservative councillor David Barnard – who claimed nearly £14,000 in special allowances and expenses from the district council for the tax year 2015/16, as well as a further basic allowance of £9,684 from Herts County Council for 2014/15 – having a so-called ‘Donald Trump-style’ rant at the district council’s budget meeting last night.

To a stunned chamber inside the historic Spirella Building in Letchworth, Mr Barnard shouted: “I will not be giving my pay rise back.”