Leaders of Birmingham City Council have rejected a call to show restraint in difficult economic times by insisting that they should each continue to receive £15,000-a-year for being members of the NEC board.

An independent remuneration panel urged council leader Coun Mike Whitby, his deputy Coun Paul Tilsley, opposition Labour group leader Sir Albert Bore and cabinet regeneration member Coun Neville Summerfield to sacrifice the handouts since they already received hefty payments for their council work.

But next month’s full council meeting is being recommended to reject the panel’s plea and agree that the NEC payments should continue.

To further fuel the controversy, Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem, Sheldon), who previously insisted he would not claim the NEC money, revealed he had changed his mind. He said: “Given the responsibility that you carry as a board member, I will accept the supplementary allowance.”

But he added that he would suspend his decision until after the vote at full council.

Taking the NEC money will put Coun Whitby’s total council income at £87,000, Coun Tilsley at £73,000, Coun Summerfield at £63,000 and Coun Bore at £45,000.

West Midlands TaxPayers’ Alliance spokeswoman Fiona McEvoy said the councillors’ decision would further underline public mistrust in politicians.

She added: “It’s a huge disappointment that our councillors are apparently more motivated by their pay packets than any sense of civic duty. With the public’s faith in politicians at an all time low, this just confirms the great many are out for themselves.

“This additional perk is equivalent to many people’s salaries, yet in this case it’s just extra pocket money for councillors. Birmingham City Council are shareholders in the NEC so whichever way you look at it this cash is coming from the public purse.”

News of the change of heart emerged at a meeting of the council’s business management committee, where party leaders Sir Albert and Couns Whitby and Tilsley were present.

No formal vote was taken, but no-one who attended spoke against asking the council to support the continued payment of the NEC cash.