CLAIMS that low pay puts people off becoming a local councillor have divided East Lancashire politicians.

A report by MPs said councillors had a right to an ‘appropriate level of compensation’.

Labour local government committee chairman Clive Betts said the young should be encouraged to stand for councils but could be put off for financial reasons.

But Tory chairman Grant Shapps' claimed the conclusions were in Labour’s interests because its councillors pass on cash to the party.

And Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson said local councillors were paid enough.

Blackburn with Darwen’s resources boss Andy Kay felt that low allowances, problems with gett- ing time off work and loss-of earnings deterred working people from standing for their local council.

Liberal Democrat peer and Pendle councillor Tony Greaves said it was the wrong time to increase politicians payments with the country in recession.

The report said many younger people were reluctant to stand in local elections, with the average age of a councillor at about 60.

In East Lancashire payments vary with borough councillors in Ribble Valley getting £2,844 a year and Burnley £2,700, while Blackburn with Darwen’s receive £5,392 and Lancashire county’s £10,000.

Burnley council leader Julie Cooper receives £17,550 a year, Ribble Valley boss Michael Ranson £17,000 and Blackburn with Darwen’s Kate Hollern £22,700.

Lancashire County council’s Tory leader Geoff Driver receives £39,000 annually.

Lord Greaves said: “We have kept our payments low in Pendle. I get about £3,000 and make some payment to the Liberal Democrat Party. I don’t think now is the time to increase councillors allowances. I don’t think anyone becomes a councillor for the pay.”

Coun Kay said: “I think councillors allowances are low, but the problem is people in work who have trouble getting time off and loss of earnings if they become councillors.

“From memory, I think the biggest allowances are often paid by Tory councils.

“I do pay money to the party.”

Mr Stephenson said: “I think councillors get enough especially in some of the big metropolitan authorities like Salford and Manchester.

Thankfully, Pendle and Ribble Valley have kept the allowances low.”