MEMBERS of Barnsley Council’s opposition walked out of the chamber as the authority’s upcoming budget was discussed - with amendments shouted down by Labour councillors.

Barnsley Independent Group members criticised proposals, approved at Thursday’s meeting of the full council, to raise council tax by 3.9 per cent - the maximum increase allowed.

Coun Phil Birkinshaw, who led the walk-out, said the council had taken more than a month to give their proposals to the group and had already began campaigning before the changes were approved.

He added that consistently charging the maximum council tax rate had allowed the council to build up £5m in reserves which, when combined with a £13.9m windfall from central government, should have inspired a ‘minimal increase, not a maximum’.

BIG leader Coun Birkinshaw was joined by Couns Gill Carr and Andrew Gillis in exiting the council chamber.

Members voted in favour of changes which will see the authority commit to spending more than £172m over the next financial year alongside the council tax increase, which will encompass a two per cent rise for adult social care and a 1.9 per cent hike for general services.