The leader of Barnet Borough Council has apologised for attempting to use taxpayer funded allowances to lure Labour councillors into agreeing to a pairing arrangement.

Speaking at an Any Questions forum at Friern Barnet Community Library, Councillor Richard Cornelius said he regretted making the offer to Labour leader, Councillor Alison Moore.

Describing how she had been approached by the leader about shadow councillors’ allowances, Cllr Moore told the forum: “Councillor Cornelius came to me and said that he was minded to remove those from the scheme although of course perhaps we could consider retaining them if we were to go to a pairing arrangement because the majority of the council is very tight now.

“There’s a real challenge I think and I can understand concern. It was a tricky offer to be made but actually it was one that the Labour group rejected.”

The offer has been dubbed an "indecent proposal" by Labour councillors.

Giving what he described as an “eloquent” apology, Cllr Cornelius said: “When I made that offer to Alison Moore, it was an offer that I deeply regret that I did make.

“If you do something wrong you say sorry. It was wrong to conflate the two issues together.

“It was right to offer a pairing arrangement and to suggest a pairing arrangement only for the very sick councillors. That's what I offered. That's fine, it wasn't accepted.