Councillors claimed more than £570,000 in allowances in the last year.

This means members took home 0.6 per cent less in 2018/2019 than in 2017/2018.

All councillors get a basic allowance of £8,687.04 but members can also claim for ‘special allowances’ if they have a unique role at the council.

Find out how much your councillor received here

Expenses for travel, food, accommodation are also recorded for the year from April 1 to March 31 but spending on these areas mostly shot up from the year before.

The council forked out more than £6,600 on travel in 2018/2019, an increase of 39 per cent, while £4,500 was spent on subsistence, meaning a surge of 34 per cent from the year before.

However, councillors claimed £3,137.40 for mileage for the most recent year, which is down marginally from the year before.

The Mayor’s office invoiced the council for £16,971 – an almost identical amount as spent in the last three years.

Council leader and Conservative councillor Paul Bettison claimed the most out of all 42 councillors in 2018/2019, racking up more than £3,300 in mileage, travel and subsistence expenses.

The leader also chalked up the most in travel expenses in by the end of 2018, and in 2017 he explained why his expenses total came to five times as much as his colleagues.

The News asked councillor Bettison, who also takes home £29,000 in special allowances, why he is awarded more than other members in his role as leader of BFC.

He said: “The scale of allowances are set every four years by a public panel and we have no say in it as councillors.

“Everything else is a multiplier on that – it tends to base itself on the amount of hours the job takes. I think the basic allowance is based on the expectation a councillor spends 16 hours a week doing council work. Attending meetings is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Executive members clock up about 70 hours a week and I managed to chalk up 100 hours once.

“I’m just going off on holiday and I will be paying excess baggage with the amount of paperwork I have to take with me.

“While I’m still on holiday I will still be working three hours a day.

“I’m in London three days a week – yesterday I was on a 7.30 am train to London for a meeting I had to attend before coming back at 12.30 for another meeting. That is one of the reasons I have claimed so much more than everybody else. It comes with the role.

“My hourly rate works out at about £2-3 an hour.

“People can’t say that councillors are overpaid. Allowances used to be linked to inflation but not anymore. We don’t even claim for travel within the borough now.

“Anybody who wanted to do this for the money would not be a council leader. There is no job security or redundancy pay.”

Deputy leader, Councillor Dale Birch, claimed the second highest amount at £17,908, including special allowances, mileage, travel and subsistence expenses.

Conservative executive members Peter Heydon, Gareth Barnard, Iain McCracken, Dorothy Hayes, Marc Brunel-Walker and Chris Turrell all chalked up £15,926.04 in special allowances.

Labour councillor Mary Temperton claimed the least from all 42 members, taking home £6,949.56.

The Great Hollands North ward member takes 80 per cent of the basic allowance given to councillors and didn’t claim any other expenses either.

Speaking to the News, she said: “I have always taken 20 per cent less (than other councillors). All the new Labour councillors will take 20 per cent less too.

“When money is short we think that the allowances and the expenses for councillors should be reduced as well. Money is very tight.

“We tried to get everybody to do this too – it would have given £100,000 back to the council, which is a big thing.

“I have never been in business so I have never claimed for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. I wouldn’t claim for this because I’d have a coffee and a piece of cake anyway.

“There is a bit of a culture difference.

“We have to have allowances as I would hate to think people couldn’t stand as councillors because of their income.

“I think what we get is reasonable, but it couldn’t pay for anybody as a full time job.

“It is a public service and it is very fulfilling – we’re here to serve our local community.

“It is residents’ money after all.

“To be honest when I am quite tired and there is an issue about a fence or something like that I remind myself I am getting paid to do this – it does spur you on.”

Thirteen Conservative councillors didn’t claim any other allowances other than the basic allowance of £8,687.04.

Kevin Gibbs, Executive Director: Delivery at BFC, said: “Publishing details of our members’ allowances is an important way in which the council is transparent to its residents.

“Councillors are supported in many ways to deliver their duties, and financial reimbursement is just one of these ways.”