I think it's a con, John Burgess, the Unison branch secretary told me. It was one of those cynical ruses whereby the council leader can say that she is prepared to make a sacrifice and forgo her pay rise, and so must all the rest of us.
Well, that was giving them too much credit. I went to the council meeting last night; that item of business (item 5.3, remember it) was left till the very last, 10.15pm, when they must have hoped most of the public would have left. Most of them had, but representatives of the council unions remained to hear Lynne make her pitch for why she should get £54,227 instead of £34,909 (a 55% rise) and why Cabinet colleagues should get £34,780 instead of £17,454.50 (a 99% rise).
When she started by saying "Barnet is one of the biggest boroughs...", I realised that the Tories were going to take the money! She went on to say how complex it was running the borough's services (even though they are looking to hive off most of them), to flatter councillors on all sides - what a hard job they do - suggest that the rises for her and her cronies will not raise the overall cost to residents, because they are doing away with some smaller allowances, etc.
Tom Davey, a Hale ward councillor, who'd earlier made a bigoted speech about people who live in social housing, and insisted that "poverty is an emotive word", had to second the motion. He sounded a lot less sure of himself now.
Of the Tories, only Kate Salinger abstained. 37 Tories did what Liberal councillor Susette Palmer passionately implored them not to do: follow the Judas goat (Lynne Hillan) to the slaughter and vote their boss a nice pay hike.
The Times series in a report quotes John Burgess's response:
“It's disgusting. We were lectured last night about how we have to help cut council services.There's a fuller Times series report here, that omits the trade union response.
“I've sat in here and listened to how they just voted themselves a massive pay increase and I think council workers are going to go mental. I can't believe what I've just heard.”