Wiltshire councillors clashed today in the debate over whether or not to rescind the allowances rise of up to 36 per cent which they awarded themselves.

Council taxpayer Paul Gaunt has organised a petition against the move which has 2,673 signatures, and that was received and noted by today's extraordinary meeting.

Paul Corban, Labour parliamentary candidate for Salisbury, told councillors: "Today you have been gifted an opportunity to defend your position and to say why you feel you need these increases.

"Alternatively you can allow the motion to rescind the decision, accepting you have misjudged the public mood and can regain some face."

Both council leader Jane Scott and Jon Hubbard, Lib Dem leader, have both spoken against rescinding the decision, with Coun Hubbard defending his rise.  

Coun Scott has already said that she will not take the increase.

Coun Jeff Osborn said: "It seemed the leader had a long hard night of the soul, but is has to be asked why it took an FoI (by the Gazette) to get this out in the open, especially when she was telling (government minister) Eric Pickles she would stick to her guns.

"It was without doubt the right decision, it is the correct moral decision."

Coun Ricky Rogers said: "I don't know a single item in 25 years that has caused such unrest in my community.

"It has caused public concern and we all need to recognise that.
I don't think anybody should be able to come here and be out of pocket, but there is a balance and this is out of balance

Coun Jon Hubbard said: "In November I voted against the pay rises. I felt there were significant elements of that report that were not fair.

"Today I am not going to vote to rescind it. To rescind a decision is to say the basis on which we made that decision was unsound.

"I am a net beneficiary from this increase ibecause I am chair of two committees of this council.

"I work on average somewhere between 50 and 55 hours per week. I am in council three days a week from 8.30am to 6.30am, and I spend weekends out in my ward with my constituents.

"All this I do as a councillor and I do it with pleasure.

"We should be giving the opportunity for younger members of our community to earn enough money to live on.

"It's scandalous that I am the second or third youngest person on this council, and I am 33.

"Let us have a system that enables people if they chose to give up their career and spend time on council, to earn enough money to be able to do that.

Coun Chris Devine said: "Jeff Osborn says this is not personal. He has put forward something he knows he can't win.

"Jeff is a good guy in scrutiny but he has no value outside of that...that's what he is, a ruddy nuisance.

"Jeff, I am sick to death of your sanctimonious humbug.

I know what Jeff is, he's a moonraker; he sees the moon in the water and he can't get it through his head that it's unobtainable.

"I voted for the increase and I will vote for it again. I am proud of this council.

"We are worth it, we do a damn good job. I am a councillor, this is what I do and I love it."

Coun Howard Greenman said: "I was speaking to a constituent of mine about the leader who said 'there is not a hope in hell anyone would do her job for what she gets'."

Coun Hubbard interrupted: "I would!"