LEADERS of the biggest political parties on City of York Council vowed in advance to follow the advice of an independent panel on councillor pay, it has emerged.

All 47 councillors at City of York are due to vote on recommendations to increase their basic allowances next week, under a wider overhaul of allowances that would increase the total bill by around 15 per cent.

It is expected the changes will be pushed through, as when the three major group leaders first asked the panel to review their pay in October, they promised to support the recommendations whether they saw councillors' allowances go up or down.

York Press: A library picture of inside the council chamber at City of York Council where councillors last night approved the authority’s budget plans

Writing to the panel's chairman, they said: "Councillors are in what would be perceived to be a fortunate position of being involved in setting our own pay, however as you will appreciate this is in reality a far from enviable position.

"Collectively as Group Leaders we believe that any decision made regarding members’ allowances is best taken by an independent panel as this removes all personal conflicts of interest.

"In order to ensure that your recommendations are given the full respect they deserve, we are today committing in advance to abide by the Panel’s final proposals."

On Friday council leader Conservative Chris Steward, deputy leader Lib Den Keith Aspden, and Labour leader Janet Looker stood by that position, with Cllr Looker saying they hoped to see broad agreement rather than partisan disagreement when it came to the vote.

Both Cllrs Steward and Looker, as well as the Green leader Andy D'Agorne, said there was never a good time to increase councillors' expenses.

The basic allowances are inline for an increase from £7,192.50 to £8,667, but Cllr D'Agorne said part of that would be off-set by the loss of telephone, internet and travel expenses.

He said: "My view is that we have to make the increase this time, to ensure that we can attract good candidates who are willing to sacrifice some of their paid income and career to represent their electorate on the council.

"If we do not, there will be few young councillors other than those whose prime focus is on becoming a national politician, few working parents and a preponderance of retired members and those with income from property or their partners.

"Councillors are of course free to donate their increase to good causes or council coffers, but they should not damage the longer prospects for those who might aspire to run the council in future as we really do want to have talented individuals with a commitment to their community making the key decisions."