CRAVEN councillor Andy Brown has defended North Yorkshire councillors voting to give themselves a 10 per cent pay increase, arguing that low pay is putting off young people from standing for office.

During a full meeting of North Yorkshire Council in Northallerton yesterday, a large majority of councillors voted to increase their annual basic allowance to £17,000 — an increase of £1,500.

It followed a recommendation by an Independent Remuneration Panel which said the increase reflected the workload for councillors since the new authority was formed in April.

Councillors are not paid a salary but receive the allowance to perform their duties.

Cllr Brown, who represents Aire Valley for the Green Party, made a speech before the vote and referred to the working class Chartist movement in the 1830s that demanded payment for MPs so ordinary people, and not just the wealthy, could enter politics.

He said: “It goes back to the Chartists and the campaign that public officials should be paid so ordinary public people could take up office. We’re still struggling to get to the point where people mid-career can take up this role.”

Teachers agreed a pay rise of 6.5 per cent earlier this year and some NHS unions accepted a five per cent rise in May but Cllr Brown described the pay increase for councillors as a “real terms pay cut” due to inflation.

He added: “Look around the room. A huge proportion could only afford to take on public duty, certainly in my case, after I retired. We have to be in a position where young people and people in mid-career can take on public office.”

The Liberal Democrats group voted against the proposals with Masham councillor Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, owner of the Swinton Park Estate, describing a 10 per cent increase as “indefensible” during a cost-of-living crisis.