WIRRAL's Labour group leader has objected to across-the-board cuts to councillors' allowances.

In December of last year, the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition-led administration made a ruling that all elected members should take a 5% cut in expenses and allowances.

Bill Norman, the town hall's director of law, has this week distributed a letter to be signed by all 66 members of the council asking them to agree to accept the 5% reduction.

But Cllr Steve Foulkes, leader of Wirral’s opposition Labour group, believes the across-the-board policy is unconstitutional.

He wants any reduction in allowances to be subject to a sliding scale based on public service income earned by councillors, which he believes would be fairer.

And he has challenged council leader Jeff Green to stick to the local authority's own rules and allow a specially set-up independent panel decide how to implement the cut.

Councillor Foulkes said: “We set up the independent panel when we were in power to make sure councillors were distanced from taking any decisions on their own allowances and avoid any perception of bias or self-interest.

"This panel is enshrined in the constitution and it should be used at all times.

"If councillors can decide on their own to cut allowances, they can equally decide to raise them on their own, which is something we want to resist at all costs.

"We absolutely agree that in times of financial difficulty councillors should play their part in restricting costs and be prepared to take a cut in allowances."

He continued: "It should be up to the independent panel to make recommendations on how budget cuts are distributed and to do so in as fair a manner as possible, which means, to quote the current Government, those with the broadest shoulders should shoulder the greatest burden.

"In our view, that should mean taking into account the overall public service income of an individual who may sit on more than one public sector body and be able to contribute more to the savings pot."

Councillor Jeff Green said: "I imagine many of our staff who have taken redundancy would have little sympathy with councillors grumbling about a 5% cut in their allowances.

"Cllr Foulkes and the Labour group obviously just don't get it. For politicians to consider themselves immune is not acceptable.

"He also knows very well that it would be illegal for us to approve any increase in members' allowances, so the idea that cabinet might do so at some point in the future is a red herring."