COUNCIL tax rates in the Chiltern district have been frozen for the next year - but council bosses also voted to give themselves a pay rise.

The amount residents owe Chiltern District Council in the authority's slice of the annual council tax bill will remain the same as last year after members officially approved the freeze last week.

But an increase in Special Responsibility Allowances was also waved through in a collective rise of around £10,000.

It was a higher rate than had been recommended by an independent panel before last Wednesday's full meeting of the council.

The amount payable to the chairman of the council is now £4,830 - up from the £3,450 proposed by the panel - while the vice chairman is eligible for £1,932, when it had been recommended the role should attract an allowance of £1,610.

Chairmen of six separate committees are also now entitled to £184 per meeting, after the panel had recommended they should not receive an additional allowance.

Increases were also approved for the chairmen of the taxi and private hire sub-committee and the licensing sub-committee, and for members of the planning committee.

The move was passed by members of the council's ruling Conservative party, to the anger of the authority's opposition.

Seb Berry, independent councillor for Great Missenden, said: "The Conservative group rammed through their own more expensive allowances package, including payment for their own party group leader - something that the independent panel had proposed should end. 

"This is the same group of Conservative councillors who last month refused to increase council tax support by a few per cent for Chiltern's most vulnerable residents. They have a very strange sense of priorities."

David Meacock, UKIP member for Chalfont Common, added: "I said that in the spirit of the Independent Allowances Panel’s work in compliance with statutory requirements, the Panel’s clearly well researched and thought-out recommendations should be simply accepted.

"Everything else being equal, Chiltern council tax payers could have had a 0.15 per cent council tax cut had the Tories accepted the Panel’s recommendations rather than helping themselves to an additional £10,000 over the Panel’s proposal. 

"I hope locals will remember this in future elections."

The council tax freeze approved at the same meeting means residents living in a Band D property - considered the average - will pay £162.53 to Chiltern District Council.