Worthing officials have resigned in protest after councillors voted unanimously to award themselves more than £20,000 in extra allowances.

The three members of Worthing Borough Council ’s Independent Remuneration Committee (IRC) handed in their notice after members ignored their recommendations.

The IRC’s job is to interview councillors and carry out research over a number of months to recommend a rate for allowances for the authority.

The panel decided that it was unfair to take any extra from the public pot and instead decided to alter the rates by cutting the allowances of some members and raising others.

However the council ignored the recommendations and instead increased allowances.

Among the new rates as a result of the July 17 vote are an increase in basic councillor allowance from £3,897 to £4,500.

There are also a number of Special Responsibility Allow-ance (SRA) rises, with council leader Paul Yallop’s leaping from £11,364 a year to £18,000.

One of the committee’s members, Barry Hillman, said: “We thought that as council workers were not receiving a rise it would only be fair that councillors’ allowances stayed the same.”

Along with his colleagues Martin Phillips and Alan Randall, he sent a resignation letter to the council’s monitoring officer, Jeremy Cook.

In it they said: “This is the second year running that our recommendations have been rejected. We undertake the role on a voluntary, unpaid basis, but now feel that we are wasting our time.

“We have grave concerns about the governance issues involved in the councillors favouring their own report in preference to that of the independent panel.”

Coun Yallop, whose SRA rise was one of the only recommended by the panel, defended the vote saying that members received a lower rate than other councillors across Sussex.

He added: “I can understand their point of view but they do only have an advisory role. It got to the stage where councillors were putting in the hard work but not being recognised.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Bob Smytherman, whose party had initially been against a rise, said that the decision had been a “reasonable compromise”.

He said: “Historically our allowances are low compared to other councils and I think it is important to offer a fair amount in order to attract more people into civic service.”