11 January 2011

Bucks given go ahead to cull councillor numbers

A major county council has been given the go-ahead to cutting the number of its councillors by over 10% saving £100,000 a year.

Proposals by Buckinghamshire CC to reduce the number of councillors from 57 to 49 have been accepted in principle by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

The Commission today starts the next stage of its review by inviting proposals for new divisions based on a county council size of 49 members.

The council agreed in November to put forward the proposed structural changes, along with plans to revise the existing 10 two-member divisions and create a one-member-one-division format, to take effect from elections in 2013.

County deputy leader Bill Chapple said: 'I'm delighted the commission is taking our proposals forward. We are living in a time of austerity when tough decisions have to be taken, and in making these proposals members are supporting the cost saving process.'

Drawing up new divisional boundaries will take account of an average 7,750 voters to each member, 1,050 below the national average. Mr Chapple said the revised ratio would maintain a ‘good democratic representation for the electorate, and save £100,000 a year.

The Boundary Commission's consultation on division sizes runs until April 3.

The reduction plans follow a growing trend by cash-strapped councils to look at the number of councillors. Several districts are also looking at the option to change their political representation, including full merger plans for Mid Suffolk and Babergh BCs.

Last autumn Telford and Wrekin Council announced plans to review the number of councillors it had from 54 to 40 saving £200,000 as part of its cost-cutting.

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