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18/Nov/2014 – Nine Councillors cut from District Council

posted 18 Nov 2014, 04:56 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 18 Nov 2014, 05:12 ]
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has announced that, with effect from the May/2015 election, the number of district councillors will be reduced from 56 to 47. At the same time ward boundaries will be redrawn and council seats redistributed. This will ensure that each councillor represents a similar number of voters. A summary report is available here (PDF 24kb).

Voter numbers are expected to grow rapidly, mainly because building new housing estates fuels inward migration. So it is only fair that political influence should shift towards areas where the number of voters has grown (or is expected to grow) most rapidly. Councillors from Burntwood and rural wards will have less influence in future. The overall position is as follows:

  • Lichfield – 2 councillors cut (17 to 15)

  • Burntwood – 3 councillors cut (15 to 12)

  • Rural (incl. Streethay, Alrewas & Fradley) – 4 councillors cut (24 to 20)

BSARA Chairman, Bob Smith, said: “Residents overwhelmingly support cutting the number of councillors. The LGBCE said that out of 35 submissions received, only 2 (by Conservative and Labour councillors) argued against a cut.”

BSARA suggested cutting Councillor numbers from 56 to 40 councillors, arguing that “the district would be better served by fewer councillors who receive substantially more training.” The Council's own evidence indicates that in 2011/12 councillor allowances/expenses plus running committees cost £850,000 p.a., yet less than £2,000 p.a. was spent on councillor training.

Bob Smith, said: The bill for losing the recent Hepwoth's planning appeal was £30,000. This shows how expensive ignoring officer's advice can be, especially when not enough has been spent on councillor training.”

BSARA hopes the May/2015 local elections will introduce some new blood, i.e. councillors who are prepared to be actively involved in local affairs. It is telling that throughout the recent public inquiry into our Local Plan, our Councillors were conspicuous by their absence. This is despite the controversial nature of some of the proposals e.g. releasing land from the Green Belt.