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.