Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Response to Boundary Commission consultation

We had an extraordinary meeting of the parish council tonight to formulate a response to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England's (LGBCE) consultation on the number of borough councillors Telford & Wrekin Council needs.

All of this was kicked off when the Conservative group won a vote in 2011 to ask the LGBCE to review electoral arrangements in Telford.  The Conservative group are proposing a reduction in the number of councillors from 54 to 44.  The Labour group are in favour of the status quo and the borough council has made a submission to that effect.

I asked for a Conservative councillor to be invited to the meeting to put forward the case for reducing the number of councillors as the three Labour borough councillors on the parish council had already told us in last week's full council meeting that they had returned their own submissions in favour of maintaining the status quo and we would only hear one point of view.  The chair wouldn't allow it so I got a copy of both submissions myself to make sure I had the facts.

After reading both submissions I came to the conclusion that 54 councillors is probably the right number because a lot more work is coming their way.  However, the council is getting less money that it needs and there is an expectation that the gap between the cost of new obligations and the funding to pay for them will get bigger as time goes by.  Clearly something needs to be done to get costs down and the £79k saving from getting rid of 10 councillors is a drop in the ocean.

The answer, in my opinion, is to keep the number of councillors at 54, reduce their salaries by half and abolish the role of Chief Executive/Managing Director which will save almost half million pounds a year.  That saving can either all be used to offset some of the funding shortfall the council is expecting or some of it could be used to employ some support workers to help the councillors with the extra work they're being expected to take on.  Half the money saved could employ a team of four full time support workers and still save the council nearly a quarter of a million a year.  We don't need career politicians in local government, we don't need two captains steering the same ship and we need to find some real cost savings.  This compromise ticks all three of those boxes and has been submitted as UKIP Telford & Wrekin's official response to the LGBCE consultation.