Cutting number of district councillors to be explored

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COUNCILLORS will look at whether it is worth ordering a review to cut the number of members serving South Holland.

The district council is looking at inviting the Boundary Commission in, but wants the body to look at shaking up the council on its terms and does not want to spend too much money.

Members debated the move at last week’s full council meeting and decided to set up a committee looking at the cost and whether the Boundary Commission can deliver what the authority wants.

Council leader Gary Porter is keen to cut the current numbers of 37 to no more than 30 and wants one councillor per ward. The geography of the district has prevented this in the past – with some places having too small a population to justify their own councillor in the eyes of the commission.

That has led to some electoral anomalies – with Crowland and Deeping St Nicholas put together as one ward. There are three councillors for that ward but the size of the population in Crowland means voters return three councillors from the town and none from Deeping St Nicholas.

Coun Porter: “When you have a multiple member ward some people sit on their backsides not doing anything and other people are expected to pick up the slack.

“If a county councillor can represent 4,500-5,000 people I don’t see why a district councillor can’t. Are they better than us? I find that hard to believe.”

Coun Nick Worth said the move could increase accountability and save money in the long term.

Coun Chris Brewis disagreed that councillors with higher populations do not have to work harder, saying the suggestion was “absolute cobblers”.

Coun Angela Newton criticised the way the commission carried out its last review of South Holland and added: “While times are hard I’m not sure this is going to be the best way to spend our money.”

Members also raised concerns about who would stand in for councillors in single member wards if they were ill or not pulling their weight and the possible loss of experienced members.

Coun Porter said he did not know the cost of review and asked members to suggest an acceptable price.