FOR a brief moment Wycombe district councillors toyed with the idea of cutting the amount of money they paid themselves, in an effort to prevent cuts in spending elsewhere. But the idea was dropped almost as quickly as it was raised.

The proposal cropped up when Wycombe District Council's economic scrutiny committee looked at next year's council spending plans.

Cabinet members set themselves a spending limit of £16 million, and a council tax rise kept down to 2.5 per cent.

But the spending plans add up to about £770,000 more than the limit. So between now and February councillors have to look at ways to save money, by raising charges, freezing vacant posts, or cutting services. It is either something along those lines or a council tax increase higher than their agreed limit.

Monday's discussion prompted two Conservative councillors to say that if savings were to be asked for from people, councillors should bear some of the pain.

Last spring the annual amount spent on allowances went up from £120,000 a year to £324,000, following proposals from an independent panel. Out went the basic allowance of £800 and an attendance allowance of £15 for going to meetings, plus responsibility allowances.

Now there is a £4,000 basic allowance; the council leader gets £16,000, his deputy £12,000, cabinet members £10,000 and there are other responsibility allowances.

On Monday Conservative David Evans said: "We should revisit the increase which we put through last year. I would suggest it goes to cabinet to look at. The pain should be on us, as councillors, as well as the council taxpayer."

Alex Collingwood said reducing allowances was better than putting up car parking charges.

The new allowances are supposed to reward councillors for their work, to make standing for election more attractive and to bring in younger people.

Labour councillor Clare Martens, who said she did not have any feelings one way or the other, said if you paid peanuts you got monkeys.

Cllr Collingwood said anyone who thought £4,000 a year would attract people was wrong.

But former council chairman David Cox said: "I can't see anyone taking on this type of activity when you don't get a salary.

A vote was taken and the idea was defeated by five votes to seven.