A TORY councillor is looking for support to begin a leadership challenge after becoming outraged by the decision of senior party members to increase allowances.

In a letter leaked to the Times Series, ward councillor for Hendon, Mark Shooter, has written to Conservative party colleagues in a bid to gain enough backing to oust council leader Lynne Hillan.

Cllr Shooter, who was voted on to Barnet Council in the May elections, says he believes the current administration have shown themselves to be “totally out of touch with public opinion” over the decision to increase allowances for cabinet members, and claims they can “no long be trusted to make important judgements”.

In the letter, he also writes: “Barnet Conservatives needs a fresh start to regain the trust of the electorate through these challenging times.

“We need to restore faith and respect in the council both among residents and our staff to cope with the difficult decision that need to be made over the next two years.”

Any formal challenge to the leadership would be heard at the group's annual general meeting on September 7.

Cllr Shooter, who took the ward seat vacated by Matthew Offord, now MP for Hendon, wrote his decision to stand was not only as a result of the allowances “scandal” but because of other actions of the administration, including the “appalling” way Councillor Kate Salinger was treated after abstaining from the vote on a matter of conscience.

He adds: “We should not need to use bulling tactics to control people.”

Cllr Shooter also cites attempts to limit discussions at residents' forums and the rhetoric of senior party members in defending the pay increases as reasons for sparking his challenge for leadership.

He said: “I know I am not the only Conservative councillor to feel very alarmed and I believe I have the support of a significant number of my colleagues in taking this stand.”

And despite only being councillor for just over three months, he tells councillors in the letter: “I believe the skills I developed from a highly successful career in business combined with not being weighed down by the failings of previous Conservative administrations, stands me in good stead to become the new leader.”

Cllr Shooter was elected in May with 3,366 votes and shares the ward seat with former mayor Maureen Braun and current Mayor of Barnet Anthony Finn.

He has been made vice-chairman of the budget and performance overview and scrutiny committee and the pension fund committee, and also sits on the business management overview and scrutiny sub-committee.