A call for the number of councillors to be culled at Preston City Council has been rebuffed.Advertisement
Liberal Democrats have argued there is a ‘democratic deficit’ on the city council due to the number of councillors representing each ward.
However Cadley councillor John Potter has seen his arguments strongly rebuked by city council leader councillor Peter Rankin. He said the Lib Dems comments were ‘disgraceful’.
Cllr Potter, who is due to argue his point in Thursday’s full council meeting, claims the number of elected representatives could be reduced to save Preston money.
He said: “There is one area of council that has avoided any cuts, the number of councillors. This week I’ve written to the chair of the local boundary review asking him to take action because Turkeys will stubbornly not vote for Christmas.
“Nothing can highlight the need for a reorganisation better than by comparing Deepdale and University Ward. Both are two member wards however Deepdale has 1,887 electors per councillor while University ward has only 820.”
Related: Council tax to rise a further two per cent in Preston
In the 2014/15 financial year a total of £272,408 was paid out to councillors. The basic annual councillor salary is £3,622.
Cabinet member for finance and resources, councillor Martyn Rawlinson, said reducing councillors from 57 to 40 would save £100,000 at the most – against the backdrop of the council needing to save a further £4m by 2020.
Cllr Rankin attacked the Lib Dems proposal, and said the boundary changes were out of the council’s hands.
He said: “These people never fail to amaze me. We are in this position because of what their party was responsible for in the period 2010-15. Just disgraceful.
“We are exploring all options to avoid closing anything and will be having an October Budget to put a number of proposals before Council.
“The Boundary Commission is scheduled to visit us next year. We are trying to expedite this review but its unlikely to proceed before next year. However they won’t come any earlier just because the LibDems want them to.
“So there is likely to be an electoral review in 2017/18, with a reorganisation of wards and possibly a recommendation for less councillors. Any changes would come into effect in 2019, but not before.
“We could also decide to move to elections every four years rather elections every year. This would entail an all-out election in 2020. This is under discussion.”
Related: Explaining the financial situation at Preston Council
A motion from the Lib Dems regarding the budget is due to be debated at the 2pm full council meeting on Thursday.
What do you think of the idea? Do we have too many or too few councillors? Have you ever contacted yours about something? Let us know in the comments below