Councillor cull may be on the cards in North East Lincolnshire
THE number of North East Lincolnshire councillors could be cut by a third under proposals mooted by council leader Chris Shaw.
Councillor Shaw told the Telegraph that the number of elected members could be slashed from 42 to 27 by not holding an election in 2014.
The Labour leader said it was unrealistic for councillors to be immune from the cuts which are being imposed on the authority.
With members earning a basic allowance of £7,500, such a move would save the council just over £112,000, as well reducing the overall bill for travel and telephone expenses.
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However, the idea has been met with scepticism by the leaders of the other two political groups, who questioned whether the smaller number of councillors would be able to cope with the heavy workload.
Several local authorities across the country are considering cutting the number of elected members.
And local government minister Brandon Lewis has announced plans to shorten the timetable which would allow them to do this.
Councillor Ray Sutton (Lab, Freshney) said he recently attended a seminar run by professional services firm KPMG at which the "perfect council of the future" was described as having only one councillor per ward.
Although Councillor Shaw (Lab, Sidney Sussex) is not advocating such a radical step, he said that the current number could be trimmed to 27 "without batting an eyelid".
Such a move would see the 15 seats due to be contested next year being scrapped – leaving one councillor in the Waltham, West Marsh and Wolds wards, and two councillors in the other 12.
Councillor Shaw said: "It is my personal opinion that we could reduce the number of councillors by a third.
"If you are reducing the size of an organisation by a third how can elected members be ring-fenced?
"Councillors would have to work a bit harder, but that's the way of the world nowadays."
Liberal Democrat group leader Andrew De Freitas said: "Local government does an awful lot more than it did ten years ago and if people are suggesting that by reducing the number of councillors, we will have better local government, I very much doubt it.
"People out there might think 'what a wonderful idea'.
"But this has been floated by a certain politician who might think he could have more control than he already has."
The proposal will be looked at as part of a wider review of the authority's local governance arrangements.