TOP councillors were forced to abandon a crucial meeting in mid-flow last night amid public anger at their plans for this year's budget.

Barnet Council's cabinet left the meeting after just 45 minutes because of a barrage of heckling from around 150 irate residents who had gathered to see the latest budget plans being pushed through.

Police and security were called in to try to stop people shouting out as members of the public asked an unprecedented number of questions of councillors about their plans to slash £54m over the next three years.

Key decisions taken included approval to leave 13 of 21 children's centres open, change sheltered housing provision for the elderly and agreeing to increase a raft of parking charges.

During the meeting councillors moved to quieten the crowd with leader Councillor Lynne Hillan telling the group: “There are places where we can have proper discussions and cabinet is not one of them.”

This drew howls of anger from people who urged councillors to suspend the rules to take all 20 questions put forward, instead of cutting them off after 30 minutes.

After continued public interruptions transport councillor Brian Coleman said: “I've rarely met such rude members of the public.”

Several questions came from residents in controlled parking zones (CPZs) who fear an increase on visitor and residents permits is being levied unfairly on them to repair all roads in the borough.

East Finchley lawyer David Attwood, who has threatened a judicial review if the prices are increased, asked why the cabinet had rejected other cash-raising ideas, including using cameras to enforce parking and road rules.

Cllr Coleman told him: “It's mine and this administration's view CCTV was not installed to penalise motorists.”

Cllr Coleman was also asked by Jeanne Wray whether there would be a reduction for the elderly using the visitor permits, which will go from £1 to £4 each, even for a short stay.

He told her it would be better for people staying a short time to use pay and display parking, even though many residential roads do not have the facilities.