Thursday, 9 July 2009

'Cull-A-Councillor' Debated

Independent Battle ward Councillor Tony Jones yesterday presented his proposals for a reduction in the number of local politicians.

He argued that by reducing the number of councillors by a third this would save borough taxpayers a significant slice of change (approx 0.1% of the total budget) and force the less active among the current intake to buck up their ideas.

Cllr Richard Willis reports Conservative group leader Cllr Andrew Cumpsty argued strongly in favour of the move and added his support to all-out elections once every four years - a move which would enable his party to consolidate a growing stranglehold on the local borough.

On the other side Cllr Benson argued for the LibDems against the move which she said was not in the interests of her constituents as it did not discriminate between good councillors and bad councillors, while Cllr Willis paints Labour as opposed through fear that their number would inevitably be cut.

Meanwhile Cllr Ricky Duveen (Tilehurst, LibDem) warns of the unadvertised consequences, which may or may not be intended. Fewer councillors will reduce the council's effectiveness by shrinking the talent pool for executive and committee posts where scrutiny is undertaken and the increased workload will lead to calls for politicians to become full-time public employees - ultimately reversing any savings made.

He says that although it may grab a few headlines, this suggestion is one which is unlikely to increase democratic participation.


Update: the recent reshuffle in West Berkshire provides an example of a potential problem which could be created by reducing the number of elected representatives.

Howard Thomas bemoans several councillors 'invisibility'.

Oranjepan asks:
what is Reading's political priority - to save money or to improve society?


  1. They just want to rule their personal feifdom!

  2. 'Independent' Jones my arse - he's sold himself out to the tories to save his neck. Why keep pretending?

  3. Can you really frame these two values as totally opposable in a dichotomy? In doing so you loose the opportunity to be creative and find a potential solution that supports both economic efficiency AND societal improvement. When you take the discourse out of the contraints of an adversarial system (UK political heirtage) and place it in a cooperative slution focused discourse wonderful things can happen :-)

  4. Wendy, you sound like a typical LibDem - not one thing or the other!


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