LABOUR councillors are boycotting a vote to decide whether Basildon should change from a district to a borough because they say the plans are a waste of time and money.

The ruling Conservatives want to apply to the Queen for a charter, granting borough status to Basildon Council.

They say this will raise the profile of Basildon, Billericay and Wickford, and attract more investment to the area.

Labour members don’t agree with this and say the authority should remain a district.

They say the proposals will have no benefit to residents and are refusing to attend a meeting tomorrow, where a vote will decide whether the council should apply for borough status or not.

Lynda Gordon, leader of the Labour Group, said: “We did not take the decision lightly, but feel by attending, we would be adding legitimacy to what is nothing more than an expensive ego trip for the administration.

“Residents gain nothing from borough status, but they will have to pay for it. We don’t believe the Tories when they say it will cost very little.

“It will only be a matter of time before we see the trappings given to mayors in other boroughs, like chauffeur cars and fancy outfits.”

The Tories claim the administrative cost of transferring to a borough would be just £1,000.

One change with borough status would be the appointment of a mayor in place of the current chairman of the council, though a mayor would not have any extra duties or responsibilities.

He or she would preside at full council meetings and represent the council and the borough at public events, but havenone of the powers of elected mayors such as London’s Boris Johnson.

As a borough, the council would also be able to honour special residents by bestowing upon them the Freedom of theBorough.

Malcolm Buckley, Conservative councillor responsible for the environment, said: “We will not take the Labour councillors’ objections seriously if they can’t even be bothered to go to the meeting. If they feel so strongly about this issue, they should be prepared to debate it.”