THE Tories have been left with “a lame-duck leadership” after they proposed to scrap the allowance increase, according the Barnet Labour group.

The much criticised scheme will go before full council on September 14, almost two months to the day since it was approved by the Conservatives, where it is expected councillors will vote to revert to the original allowance system.

Barnet Council leader Lynne Hillan said the move was aimed at improving the consultations with residents over future “difficult decisions”, while proving the administration was listening to the community.

But Councillor Alison Moore, leader of Barnet Labour group, claimed the Tories should never have gone ahead with the scheme in the first place and the whole episode had shown “enormously poor judgement”.

She said: “It shows a real lack of community leadership and lack of understanding about people's lives.

“The Tories have descended into a quagmire of public in-fighting, and, quite frankly, the council has been left with a lame-duck leadership.

“It calls into question their whole ability to lead Barnet and support the borough's residents through the tough times. Their reputation is in tatters.

“They don't seem to understand what local services mean to local people. Their understanding of people's expectations is way off base.”

Cllr Moore said there was no evidence the decision had been taken on the back of listening to the public, as Cllr Hillan had claimed, and suggested it was simply a move to drag back a degree of popularity ahead of a possible leadership contest.

She said: “While I’m pleased with the decision to review these obscene allowance increases, the truth is that, far from “listening” to the public, Cllr Hillan has been forced, unwilling, into this u-turn by a potential challenge to her leadership from a member of her own group.”

“The fact remains that her judgement has been exposed as seriously questionable and this whole episode has severely damaged her, and her group of councillors.”

Former Labour MP for Hendon, Andrew Dismore, has claimed the threat of legal action by the GMB also prompted the Tories to rethink their stance.

He said the proposed case, which questioned the legality of the report presented to council, would have resulted in a costly injunction and protracted review, which would have been further criticised by the community.

Mr Dismore said: “They would have had to return to the whole meeting and the decision, and the result would have been that they realised the game was up.

“They were trying to sneak it through the back door. It makes the leadership look very weak and it is indicative of the opportunism for which they are becoming known.

“They underestimated the strength of feeling in the community. If they had done it before the election I'm sure there would have been a very different result.”