BARNET'S top Tories are set to get bumper pay rises after voting through a new allowance structure on the same night as warning of “constraints” ahead during a heated meeting.

Council leader Lynne Hillan can claim up to £54,000 per year for the role, a jump of nearly £20,000, on top of a £10,000 basic members allowance available to all councillors.

Cabinet members are the other big winners doubling their £17,000 entitlement to £34,000, although they have agreed not to claim £7,200 this year to ease the transition and keep it within budget.

Many opposition councillors have lost out in the new scheme, set out by London Councils, gaining a minor allowance increase but losing the £500 travel expenses.

The changes also prevent members claiming more than one special responsibility allowance, which Cllr Hillan said makes it “more transparent” and reduces some costs.

The only Conservative at the meeting to abstain from the vote, Councillor Kate Salinger, was removed from the every committee she was on by her party peers at the end of the meeting.

With cabinet members taking the voluntary cut, introduced in an amendment tabled by Cllr Hillan this afternoon after scathing criticism of the scheme, it comes in just under current allowance levels.

However, forecasts show the total budget increasing from next year by £15,000.

Cllr Hillan defended the moves in her speech to full council, saying: “I know and value how much each and every one of you in this council chamber does for Barnet and its residents.

“I know you put yourselves forward to serve the public to the best of your ability. It's not a job for the faint hearted.

She added: “My colleagues throughout London say the role of leader has gone from a part time to full time role over the last ten years. It makes good sense to me.”

Labour leader, Councillor Alison Moore, said: “We face swingeing public service cuts and a public sector pay freeze.

“This set of proposals are quite frankly hypocritical. They serve one purpose, to reward small number of councillors massive pay rises legally, to the detriment of the large body of councillors.

“Clearly we're not all in this together. It's not a matter of personal interest but for residents and council staff deserve better.”

Lib Dem Councillor Susette Palmer also condemned the moves in an emotional address, calling them “weasel excuses” and accusing the Tories of “sheer greed” adding they “duped voters”.

The changes were voted for by 37 of the 38 Tories present, with 22 opponents from Labour and Lib Dems and one abstention.

Other changes made in the move mean all councillors will be subject to appraisals, will have a clear job description set out for them, with the new regime taking effect from August 1.