A LOCAL authority should consider cutting Conservative members' allowances over their boycott of scrutiny committees, a senior Labour councillor has said.

Cllr Sylvia Liddle made the suggestion during Blackburn with Darwen's full Council Forum on Thursday night.

The debate was punctuated by repeated exchanges about the decision by the authority's Conservative group not to attend scrutiny committees in a dispute over the allocation of their chairmanships.

Council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan told Tory leader Cllr John Slater: "Please reconsider this.

"It is about holding executive members and officers to account. It is about representing the people of the borough."

Cllr Liddle, who chairs the people overview and scrutiny committee said: "This is an absolute dereliction of duty. It is an absolute disgrace.

"Perhaps the council should look at whether councillor allowances should be paid to Conservative members because they are not doing their job."

Cllr Slater said: "They cannot do this. We are continuing with our portfolio roles and representing the residents of our wards.

"We have 25 per cent of the councillors and should have 25 per cent of the scrutiny committee chairmanships and we have not got one.

"We have just two vice-chairmanships.

"This is about fairness and Labour greed.

"If they give us what we want and are entitled to we will attend scrutiny committees."

Cllr Khan said that the allocation of committee positions and Cllr Slater's place on the council's executive board was more generous than that offered by the ruling groups of other nearby local authorities including Tory-run Lancashire County and Ribble Valley Borough Councils.