AN independent is asking fellow county councillors to show solidarity with staff by giving up part of their allowance over Christmas.

Hard up Somerset County Council is proposing forcing workers to take two days' unpaid leave - on top of the paid annual leave they are entitled to - over the festive period in a bid to tackle the authority's growing financial crisis.

Cllr Mike Rigby is now calling on all 55 members at County Hall to hand back two days' worth of their allowance - about £100 each - "to bear the same pain as staff".

"It's not a lot, but it's a symbolic gesture showing solidarity with the staff," said Mr Rigby.

"It's only reasonable for councillors to bear the same pain as staff.

"It's not the fault of staff that the council has been run into the ground.

"I don't personally feel any responsibility for the mess the council is in, but it's certainly not the staff's fault."

Mr Rigby criticised the Conservative group running the council for not raising council tax by two per cent over a number of years, which he claims would have boosted its finances by £29 million every year.

He added: "The Conservatives say they have been arguing for a better deal for Somerset for years - either they haven't done that or they're rubbish at it because we haven't got a better funding model.

"We're running up against a point where we won't be able to pay our bills. It's annoying to see the Conservative councillors crying crocodile tears because the blame lies squarely at the doors of their group."

Mr Rigby is writing to council leader Cllr David Fothergill with his proposals, which he will put to the next full council meeting if the enforced two days leave is voted through.

The council has calculated that the extra two days' leave – which will go out to a trade union ballot in September – could save £1 million over a two-year period.