Reduction in number of County Councillors

Published On October 28, 2010 » 2839 Views» Politics
Gloucestershire

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There is a suggestion floating around at the moment that in Gloucestershire, having some wards that have 2 members per ward is extravagant.  To this end, the County Council Cabinet asked the Boundary Commission to review the allocation of 2 member wards.  The Gloucestershire Conservatives suggesting that the reduction in councillors will save £80k per annum.  (reducing from 63 to 53).  Presumably that means that they want all 2 member wards to go to single member, there are 10  of these wards (including Quedgeley) and therefore the sums are easy.

The first interesting note was that the Boundary commission said sorry we don’t work like that.  It is referred to the Local government boundary Commission.  They said that they will not be that specific (in just reviewing the 2 member wards) and are reviewing the entire structure.  This I think is a good thing, with developments popping up everywhere then having a periodic robust review is good.   The review can be followed here.

However for me, the real issue should be about looking at representation and workload.  The national average is that each County Councillor represents just over 9000 constituents.  In Gloucestershire, this is at around 7400.  But should the right number be based on the national average?  Really, what I would like to see is to ask the councillors themselves, with  their workload, just how many constituents they can represent effectively.  Having chatted with some current county councillors, I get the idea that around 8000 is about right, given the remit of that council.

Looking at Quedgeley as a specific example, it is a 2 member ward, current presided over by Cllr Jackie Hall and Cllr Vic Rice.  This could go down to one of them.  However the number of people living in Quedgeley is over 16000, so it would be well above the ability for one person to deal with it.   So really what they would need to do is split it back into Fieldcourt and Severnvale and have one councillor each.  But that hasn’t saved any money.  Maybe Quedgeley is a bad example and there are other 2 member wards with less constituents.  I know that the Labour Group think that going down to 60 (give or take) could be viable, but I don;t know which 3 wards they were thinking of.

Of course, the Boundry commission could come and recarve up the country to create perfectly balanced wards, but it is likely that these would not match the City wards which could make it more confusing for the constituent.   And I believe that they do have to work within the county boundry too (unlike the Parliamentary constituencies), which makes the job less easy.

In many ways, I agree with Cllr Sarah Lunnon (Green Party), we should me more concerned with democratic representation, especially in this climate, than the economics of it.   A lot of people feel dienfranchised with politics and politicians, and this will not help that at all.

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10 Responses to Reduction in number of County Councillors

  1. Joe K says:

    If I recall correctly, we have just over a thousand or more residents in Barton & Tredworth, but we have three city councillors, and life would go on merrily, I’m sure, if two of them in particular vanished from the ward (one has already moved to Churcham, you may recall).

    Maybe, if we don’t want to go to the trouble of boundary changes (it’s only been ten years or so since since the last time), the existing councillors could be encouraged to be a bit more visible? We apparently have a dearth of material for the latest partnership newsletter, and I’m tempted to suggest that our councillors be asked to contribute articles about their work. One would think they’d jump at the chance, especially the ones who are coming up for re-election…

  2. bazkirby says:

    Hi Joe, as Im sure your aware, the City and the County councils have different remits, and you have one County Councillor (Cllr Sonia Friend). Maybe the next step is to look at the number of City Councillors on the City Council, but I don;t believe that has been suggested.

    As for suggesting that your councillors contribute articles, then why not ask?

    You make the point about councillors not living in their ward, is that really important? I know a few of the city councillors do not actually live in the ward they represent, for example Councillor Martyn White (Quedgeley – Severnvale) lives just outside Mitcheldean, Cllr Fred Wood (Quedgeley Field Court) lives in Quedgeley Severnvale and thats just looking at my local ones. But they have all got the right number of supporters to stand and had the support at the election to be elected. So where, democratically, is the problem (Apart from the fact they are Tory 😉 )

  3. Joe K says:

    I guess I should have looked a bit closer at which council you were talking about, Barry; it’s just that with my experience of three city councillors and one county councillor, it’s easy to assume that one county councillor is enough for a given area, and if anything city councillors are most in need of revision.

    My strong preference would be for a councillor to live in his or her ward but, failing that, not to advertise a Barton Street address on the Gloucester Labour web site (fair play to you for having that site on your bloglist, by the way, it’s more than most local Labour politicians can do).

  4. bazkirby says:

    Fair enough, I thought that would be the case. 🙂

    The address on the party website is more my fault than anything else as I’m now looking after it (I meant to update it the last time you pointed it out, but I forgot). But thank you for reminding me.

    • Joe K says:

      It’s always a good idea to not ‘stick a pin it in it’, as that LA agent in ‘Bolt’ would say, but ‘get ‘er done’ right there, on the spot. Then we wouldn’t be here, five days later, with no change.

      Unless… ‘Sometimes a guy will be a good guy even if some pompous bustard makes him leave a job undone’?

      If it’s any help, Harjit Gill’s address, freely available on the city council web site, is Tythe Farm, Tythe Farm Lane, Birdwood, Gloucester.

      • bazkirby says:

        Bolt is one of my Middle daughters favourite films 🙂

        There is no conspiricy, its just time and this keeps slipping to the bottom of my to do list. The full time job and other activities do make for a busy Barry (much to the Chargrin of Mrs Kirby).

        But, as your right and I have left it hanging for too long, it is now changed. 🙂

  5. Tory boy says:

    Hi Barry,

    You can read the submission on the LGBCE website http://www.lgbce.org.uk/all-reviews/south-west/gloucestershire/gloucestershire-single-member-ward-review.

    No-one is proposing making double member wards single member. That would leave illegally massive divisions – any cut or increase in councillors would have to be spread across the county…

  6. bazkirby says:

    Hi Tory Boy

    Thanks for the link, I believe it is the same on as I linked in my post.

    The point in my post was that the way it has been represented in the media, and the initial question is targeting the double member wards and I wanted to highlight why that is unrealistic. I agree that any change would need to be thought about, not only in the numbers themselves but how they fit in the rest of the govenment structure. I think an increase in Councillors might be pushing it 😉

    Thanks for contributing, what do you thing the drivers for the change should be?

  7. Joe K says:

    There y’go. In return, I promise not to make a big deal out of it, until HG is up for re-election again, anyway. I can’t promise that nobody else will, though 🙂

  8. Pingback: Reduction in County Councillors – Part 2 – Killing Democracy! « The murmurings of Barry Kirby

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