A councillor has been branded “disgraceful” after refusing to attend daytime meetings at Bury Town Hall – because he would have to pay for parking.
Cllr Jack Walton, who represents Church ward, has not attended two meetings of the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), in protest at having to pay parking charges.
The Conservative councillor has made his protest public, after insisting that the reason for his absence was included in the minutes of the meeting.
Council staff and councillors have to pay for parking at the town hall during the day, however parking is free after 6pm.
Staff and councillors can purchase a permit that allows them to park at any council-run car park five days a week in Bury, but permits cost around £687.96 a year.
The JCC meets once a month, and consists of council officers, union representatives and councillors, with matters regarding the terms and conditions of council staff being discussed.
Labour Cllr Luise Fitzwalter, who represents Ramsbottom, said: “I think it’s disgraceful. As a result of Tory cuts, which have lost the council 50 per cent of its budget and over 300 jobs, staff and councillors have agreed to pay for parking.
“It is an insult to officers that a Tory councillor is refusing to come to daytime meetings when they have to turn up and pay for parking, and it is an insult to his constituents.
“The irony is that this meeting is about the staff terms and conditions.”
Cllr Walton, who lives in Unsworth, said the system is flawed, and that he is not prepared to pay hundreds of pounds to attend day meetings.
He said: “We have not had a pay rise for three or four years. Fine, I accept that. We used to get travel expenses for attending meetings, I have no difficulty losing that. But having to pay £600 to attend meetings during the day is a bit much.
“The scheme is flawed. There are only six spaces at the car park for members and we have 51 members.”
When asked why he will not pay for parking just as council staff do, Cllr Walton added: “They get paid substantially more money and they are there from 9am to 5pm.
“We are having to pay the same amount as them for half an hour. I think it is a cheap gimmick.”