The allowances paid to county councillors are to increase by 2.75 per cent, after being agreed by a meeting of the council.

That means that the basic allowance paid to each county councillor will increase by £286 a year to £10,668 – with the increase being backdated to April 1.

There will be increases too for those councillors that have additional responsibilities – such as group leaders, executive members and 'spokesmen' from each political party.

As a result, the additional allowance paid to the leader of the council – on top of the basic allowance – will increase by £1,144 a year to £42,672.

The additional allowance for the deputy leader will increase by £858 a year to £32,004. And the allowance for each other executive member will increase by £572, to £21,336.

However any member that holds multiple roles qualifying  for additional special responsibility allowances can only claim one.

The recommendation to increase councillors allowances was drawn up by the Independent Panel on Members’ Allowances, which is made up of five independent people who are not councillors.

That panel recommended to the county council that the basic allowance and the special responsibility allowances should increase by 2.75 per cent – in line with the National Joint Council for Local Government Employees settlement.

And the increases were agreed by a meeting of the full council on October 20, with just one councillor voting against.

According to the independent panel’s report, the basic allowance in Hertfordshire is still below the average amount allowed by 12 comparative county councils, which is reported to be £10,941.

Presenting the recommendation, council leader Cllr David Williams told members that given the history of members accepting the advice of the independent panel in previous years his recommendation was that it be approved.

Leader of the Opposition Liberal Democrat Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said that the independent panel was set up more than 20 years ago as an independent arbitrator to determine members allowances.

And – while accepting he had not always agreed with the decision of the independent panel – he said: "What is the point of an independent panel making recommendations if we do not accept them?"

Also supporting the proposal, Labour group leader Cllr Judi Billing said: "I too think that you shouldn’t have an independent panel and then not take its  advice.

"I have seen it done in other places for purely political gain  – and it is never a good look."