Wiltshire Council has agreed today to give a substantial increase in allowances to its members only weeks after making 252 staff redundant.

The increases, put forward by Wiltshire Council's Independent Remuneration Panel, were passed in a recorded vote held at County Hall, Trowbridge, during a full council meeting.

A total of 53 councillors voted for the proposals, 28 were against and two abstained.

Through the reforms, Jane Scott Wiltshire Councillor leader and the region’s Conservative leader, will see her allowances increase by 36.5 per cent a year, allowing her to have an additional £14,000. This figure covers her position as council leader and as chairman of the health and wellbeing board.

Carrying out the review, the first since 2009, the independent body compared Wiltshire Council’s allowances scheme with other councils and also considered government guidance.

The motion, which is being backdated from May’s elections, will see members’ basic allowances increase by £122 to £12,289 a year with those councillors who are members of the council’s cabinet seeing their allowances increase from £15,101 to £18,433 a year.

Cllr Scott said: “I think it is important that it’s not the people but the positions. It is about positioning the council in the right place to get the right people to do these jobs.”

During the summer, the council ran a voluntary redundancy programme in which 252 frontline staff decided to leave the organisation.

It aimed to reduce spending by £4m, with an expected annual saving of £6.9m in salary costs. Seven of the council’s 18 associate directors also took voluntary redundancy which will save them £300,000 a year in salaries.

The remaining associate directors have seen their wages rise by 7.5 per cent, on average, to recognise their additional responsibilities.

During today’s meeting, the Liberal Democrats and Independent councillors put forward several amendments to reduce the increase in allowances but these were all defeated at the voting stage.

Wiltshire Councillor Jon Hubbard, leader of the Wiltshire Liberal Democrats said: “it is outrageous that we have seen today the Conservative leadership at Wiltshire Council receive a massive pay rise just after they have made hundreds of staff redundant.

“Time after time today we saw backbench councillors try to stop the massive rises for the top tories, and time after time we saw the tories vote to block these efforts.”

Wiltshire Council’s members’ allowance will increase by £127,000 following today’s decision.

Many councillors expressed their concerns about how the council will be perceived by the public with many constituents currently battling financial difficulties.

Wiltshire Councillor Ernie Clark, leader of the council’s independents, said: “Put yourself in the position of a member of the public, they are going to slaughter us and rightfully so.”

Wiltshire Councillor Jeff Osborn, who is an independent, said: “We messed up with the senior salaries increase, I had people ringing me saying ‘how dare we do it’ and the same will happen again.”

In the next four years, Wiltshire Council’s funding from the Government will drop by £22m and the authority is planning to make £120m of cuts in total.