COUNCILLOR Sharon Briggs (Letters, October 5) is mistaken in stating that the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) fixes the level of elected members' allowances.

They can only make recommendations; the final decision is taken by the council which comprises 100 per cent elected members. Under the new arrangements, the IRP recommendations by-pass all scrutiny committees.

It would seem that the IRP do not like to be contradicted because their last report contained the words: We do not understand why the standards committee are able to comment on our proposals.

Coun Briggs is correct in stating that the responsibility for setting allowances has not been taken away from the standards committee -- because it never had it in the first place. However, independent members were able to express their opinions.

Coun Briggs states that the change was made "to maintain the independence of the IRP and to maintain its credibility". Does this mean that the "powers-that-be" doubt the credibility of their own independent members? I would remind readers that independent members of Bury MBC do not receive allowances, and we are on record as having stated that we do not want any.

If the only argument that can be put forward with regard to my opinion on index-linking extra responsibility allowances is that "other councils do it", then I think it is time that we did our own thing! My figures (Letters, September 3) show clearly their effect over the years, and such increases cannot be justified. Extra allowances are a "bonus" and should not be increased automatically.

There is no mention by Coun Briggs about my comment that three extra councillors has resulted in less responsibility. So I can only assume she agrees with me that an increase in allowances this year can not be justified.

I would also have thought that, as chairman of the standards committee, she would have supported our involvement and made efforts to correct what I consider to be a "miscarriage of justice".