Jonathan Werran 18 January 2013

Councillor reduction given green-light

Town halls could reduce the number of councillors representing their authority, following an agreement brokered between the Local Government Boundary Commission and ministers.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis last night penned a letter to English council leaders, informing them it would now be possible to shorten the timetable for proposals aimed at slimming-down the number of elected members.

Some authorities have been considering schemes to slash the size of their councils to increase efficiency and minimise costs following boundary reviews. But under previous arrangements, many authorities, especially those which hold full council elections every four years, were unwilling to do so given the length of time involved.

The Government proposes using powers held under the Local Government Act 2000 to bring forward the year in which a council holds its elections to the first practicable local election day.

‘For example, if the Commission makes an Order this year reducing the size of the council of a district authority having whole council elections, this change could be implemented in 2014 rather than waiting until 2015,’ the letter states.

Similar considerations would extend to decisions made by the Commission for county councils. Councils considering changes to electoral arrangements are advised to contact the Local Government Boundary Commission, with the proviso any formal request needs need the full backing of the council.

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