DISTRICT councillors in Huntingdonshire cost local taxpayers more than £400,000 in allowances and expenses in 2009/10, according to figures released annually by HDC. A total of 55 members, a few of whom served for only part of the year, claimed a total of

DISTRICT councillors in Huntingdonshire cost local taxpayers more than £400,000 in allowances and expenses in 2009/10, according to figures released annually by HDC.

A total of 55 members, a few of whom served for only part of the year, claimed a total of £404,749.54 - equivalent to £7,783.65 for every council seat.

In addition to a basic allowance of £4,235 in 2009/10 (which has not increased for three years), councillors can claim back the cost of care, travel and subsistence. Members of the cabinet, committee chairmen and vice-chairman and members of the development management (planning) panel also get 'special responsibility allowances' of up to the £14,000 claimed by the leader, Councillor Ian Bates.

At just over £18,800, Cllr Bates's claim was the highest of all members, as usually happens. Second most expensive was the deputy leader, Cllr Mike Simpson, who claimed just under £15,300.

A total of 16 members made five-figure claims, including opposition leader Cllr Peter Downes and council chairman Cllr John Davies, who also topped the claims for travel expenses.

Five councillors who served for the full year claimed nothing but their basic allowances - Tories Mac McGuire, who did not seek re-election this month, and Bob Farrer, Liberal Democrats Kendal Cooper and Patricia Jordan, and Sawtry Independent John Garner, who also stood down on May 6.

Most other councillors claimed for travelling expenses - seven of them four-figure sums - but only one, cabinet member Cllr Colin Hyams, claimed for subsistence (a modest £55). However, hotel bookings for members who have to stay away from home on HDC business are usually made centrally by the council, so are not included in these figures.