THE BOROUGH'S loan Labour member has taken to the streets to prove the public believe a two per cent pay rise for councillors is a load of balls.

Councillor Andy Croy and Earley Town Councillor Sheena Mathews visited Woodley Precinct at the weekend to talk to residents about councillors' wages.

On November 23 Conservative members voted for the Independent Enumeration Panel's suggested two per cent raise.

Residents were asked if it was right or wrong for them to plump for the raise by putting balls in buckets, with a ‘not sure’ option catering for undecided voters.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an overwhelming majority - 310 of 350 voters - did not approve.

Cllr Croy said: “We even had avowedly Tory voters telling us that councillors had made a terrible mistake.

“Members of the public were happy to share with us examples of where the cash could be spent, from carers wages to school funding, from improved bus services to more police, residents had a very had a very clear idea that there were far better ways to be spending their hard earned council tax.

“It just goes to show how out of touch with residents the Tories are.

“In a time of austerity, when council services are besieged by cuts it is simply immoral for elected officials to be voting themselves a pay rise."

During the pay rise debate, Conservative leader Cllr Haitham Taylor urged her party to adopt the Panel’s recommendations “in order to respect their independence and impartiality”.

However, she also said a suggested £100 bonus in Out-of-Pocket allowances to make up for increased parking charges should be rejected.

A pledge was produced, signed by Conservative councillors, with a commitment not to take the extra money.

Cllr Taylor said:“At a time when we have introduced free parking after 3pm in Wokingham, it would be wrong for councillors to receive an extra allowance for the cost of parking.

“It is also important that the Council respects the work of the independent members of the community who put together these recommendations in the first place."