Councillors in Dorset have rejected an increase to their annual allowance - but moves to create a ‘super six’ team of representatives with added responsibilities and bonuses has been approved, at an annual cost to the taxpayer of £60,000.

A majority vote turned down the recommended £500 increase on their £13,000 a year ‘allowance’ after council leader Spencer Flower headed off a revolt among the ruling Tory group by allowing his councillors a free vote.

It had become clear that many were unhappy with an increase to every councillor at a time when thousands of local people are taking pay cuts or losing their jobs.

Voting down the proposals has saved the council £41,000.

However the full Dorset Council meeting on Thursday evening, the first since February, was persuaded of the need to create six ‘lead councillor’ roles. The super six will effectively become deputies to some cabinet portfolio holders and take on special projects.

The new posts are only open to members of the controlling Conservative group as are all the main committee positions.

The six councillors will each get a £10,000 a year bonus by taking on extra responsibilities – bringing their pay to £23,000.

Several councillors spoke about the hours they work, many having given up full-time, or even part-time, employment to take on their community roles.

The changes do not effect pay for Cabinet posts which remain at £35,000 a year, with the council leader getting £48,000. Most committee chairs receive an extra £10,000 a year on top of the basic, with deputy chairs and chairs of smaller committees receiving an extra £5,000, as does the Liberal Democrat group leader Owermoigne councillor, Nick Ireland.

The £13,000 a year basic allowance, available to all councillors, compares to the previous £10,600 a year paid for county councillors and an average of £5,000 a year for the previous  district and borough councillors.

An independent panel which recommended the initial level of allowances for the new authority said at the time that for many of the new councillors the role will be a full time position and suggested that they are likely to be working harder than those on the six councils which have been replaced by the new Dorset Council.

Across the area there has been a cut from more than 170 councillors to the current 82, which it was claimed in the first year would produce a saving of £400,000 a year in allowances and expenses. The previous six councils had an annual £1.8 million budget for councillors allowances and expenses.

On average each councillor now represents 3,600 electors - double the average for a previous district/borough council ward.

Other allowances which councillors can claim include car expenses of 45p a mile, a carer’s allowance and expenses for being out of county on business for meals and other incidental costs.

During Thursday's meeting there was also much talk of improving diversity by properly rewarding roles which have extra responsibilities.

Green group leader Clare Sutton had calculated that more than 70 per cent of Dorset councillors are over 55 and mostly men. She said she wanted to do more to encourage younger people to join the council, increasing its diversity.