Lichfield District Council's offices. Pic: Lichfield District Council

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A residents’ group has called for a reduction in the number of councillors in Lichfield and Burntwood. A review is currently being undertaken by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) to decide whether Lichfield District Council is the right size. The local authority currently has 56 councillors – a figure they believe is correct.
Lichfield District Council’s offices. Pic: Lichfield District Council
However, the Beacon Street Residents’ Association believes that number should be significantly reduced. In their submission to the LGBCE consultation, the group claimed a slimmed down group of 40 councillors could operate effectively with smaller committees. “The District Council has embarked on a Fit for the Future review to ensure that services can be delivered with less money,” said the group’s chairman Bob Smith. “We are recommending that the council’s management and governance arrangements are also slimmed down – reducing the Council size should be part of a wider review. “The current District Council was formed in 1974, before the era of the internet, email, websites and direct dialling. “The representational role of local Councillors has been reduced. Firstly because the public can access much more Council information via its website, and secondly because there is far more direct contact with Officers by email. “We also think that the influence of the District Council will be diminished by current changes in local government. We now have elected Police Commissioners, and responsibility for development and job creation seems to be being devolved to Local Enterprise Partnerships, leaving fewer decisions for local Councillors to take. “Local councillors’ freedom is further constrained by cost savings initiatives such as out-sourcing and shared services with other local authorities. “All of these changes mean that, in our view, decision making is largely in the hands of the Cabinet.” The group’s views echo that of former District Councillor and current Lib Dem City Councillor Ian Jackson. He proposed the number of representatives be axed by a third. And the Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association believe the focus should be on quality instead of quantity. “We believe that the District would be better served by fewer councillors who receive substantially more training,” Mr Smith explained. “To support a smaller Council, the number of ‘rubber stamp’ meetings should be reduced and the quality of paperwork put before these committees should be improved. “Reducing the number of councillors will streamline decision making and reflect the reality that most significant decisions are taken in Cabinet and subsequently ratified by the full Council.” Residents have until October 14 to have their say in the consultation on the number of councillors in the district.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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