SEVERAL Labour councillors have vowed to reject a huge 26 per cent hike in allowances, slamming the rise as "criminal".
And Tory members have come under fire for unanimously accepting the rise, given the council's precarious financial situation.
The increase will see a councillor's basic allowance jump from £3,217 to £4,057, with effect from tomorrow. Most members voted in favour of it at a full council meeting in July.
However, Labour councillor Dave Parkins has blasted the level of the increase and slammed his Tory colleagues for accepting it, when two years ago the council was facing a £1.7M shortfall.
Councillor Parkins moved a motion to enforce a freeze on expenses until the end of the financial year.
He said: "We should lead by example to the public. This Tory-controlled council has cut services by 15 and eight per cent over the last two years and put council tax up as well. This rise would cost £45,000 - I want that money to go back into services and to the people of Hyndburn instead.
"I am disgusted at the Tory councillors - they have no thought for the people, they are just thinking of themselves and it is irresponsible.
"We don't do this job for gain. If they had suggested a three per cent rise in line with inflation I would have voted for it. But not 26 per cent - that's criminal. If this is what the Tory council thinks of the people of Hyndburn then it should just pack up."
Although the decision was an individual one, and not subject to a party whip, many Labour councillors have decided to reject the increase.
Councillor Graham Jones said: "We don't get paid a lot but rises in expenses should be bottom of the list, given the way this council has been run and services have been cut."
Councillor John Broadley said: "I decided to refuse the increase, based on the financial state of the council. It has been left to individuals, but I didn't think it was fair to accept the rise when there have been increases in council tax."
Councillor Bernard Dawson said: "I am not going to accept it as I think it is too much. We already get far more than we have ever got."
Councillor Lesley Jackson said: "I have decided not to accept the increase although I can see both sides of the argument. We are at the low end of the allowances scale looking at the rest of the country.
"The difficulty is that if there isn't reasonable renumeration we would end up with a council full of wealthy and retired people. But it is difficult to make councillors' allowances one of the priorities, given the current financial situation.
"I do not criticise anyone who accepts it - they earn it and are worth the money - but I have decided to stay where I am."
However, Labour group leader, Councillor David Myles, did accept the increase. The Altham ward councillor said he felt it was important to do so, in order to attract a wider range of people to serve as councillors.
He said: "I want a council that is representative of the public. The average age of councillors at the moment is over 60. If you want to attract younger people then you have to compensate them for taking time off work to attend the meetings.
"Although it seems a large increase, it merely brings us in line with the minimum wage, nothing more."