The leader of Barnet Council has opted not to take a substantial pay rise offered to some councillors, putting pressure on others to do the same.

Last week councillors voted to approve increases of up to 53 per cent in some of the allowances paid to councillors who adopt aditional responsibilities, such as sitting on residents’ forums.

The rise means that some councillors will pocket thousands of pounds more each year at a time when taxpayers face rising unemployment and taxes.

Council leader Mike Freer has opted not to take the raise, which would have increased his pay by almost £4,000, despite voting to approve the new rates at last week’s full council meeting.

The rates are proposed each year by an Independent Advisory Panel and Mr freer said there would be “no point” having the panel if its proposals were not followed.

He said: “The point of the panel is to take the decision about the level of allowances away from the councillors themselves.

“However each councillor can then choose what they want to do. Imposing a freeze is heavy-handed, councillors are mature enough to make their own mind up depending on their own circumstances.”

Other councillors within the Conservative group will receive increases of as much as 22 per cent from April.

Opposition councillors belonging to the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups voted for a freeze on allowances.

Mr Freer added: “It will be interesting to see if the opposition councillors who put their hand up for a freeze still have their hand out for the rise, or will they all waive the rise?”