Labour councillors have warned against slashing the size of Lichfield District Council.
Lichfield’s Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association are among those calling for a reduction in the number of representatives.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) are due to close their consultation on the issue on October 14.
Lichfield District Council’s ruling Conservative party have already said the current number of 56 councillors is enough – a view that has now been backed by the opposition Labour group.
In their submission to the consultation, Labour politicians said: “We cannot see any reason to tinker with the existing arrangements.
“The Local Development Plan, which is in the final stages but generally accepted, allows for development across the District of just under 10,000 houses in the next plan period. This will put even more pressure on councillors’ time for resolving local problems.
“Apart from time spent at the many committee meetings of the District and outside bodies – of which there are many – a councillor in most parts of Lichfield District has much casework to concentrate on.
“The current exercise being carried out as part of the Government austerity measures is having a huge impact on the level of staff working for the District Council. This is bound to reflect in a councillor’s case work and the time it takes to satisfy the electorate when they raise problems with their local councillors.”
However, the Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association have suggested that the role of local councillors is actually reducing in the digital age.
And they highlighted concerns over the structure of the decision-making process with calls for more training for a reduced number of representatives.
Cllr Steve Norman, leader of Lichfield District Council’s opposition Labour group, welcomed the submission by the group, but insisted the solution was not necessarily to slash the number of councillors.
“I was impressed with the detail and work involved in the Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association submission,” he said. “I hope other groups and individuals have also made submissions.
“The alternative to a democratic process – and the necessary costs involved – of course is no democracy where the Council becomes a business and not a public body run by members of the public who each face a job interview by thousands of residents every four years.
“As for Scrutiny, I have long battled at Lichfield District Council to get the appropriate funding for the support of Scrutiny which may well have made savings greater than the cost of the professional support we currently do not have. In any case, at the very least, more quality training for members is needed and yes, Chairs who do not sit quietly when a petition of over 1,500 is presented to Council and halts the planned process.
“I am sympathetic to Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association’s concerns on these matters, but I think the answer may not lie in reducing the pool of elected members to choose from to sit on these important Scrutiny Committees, but to give them training and encouragement to challenge.
“There are still major funding challenges ahead which will mean even tougher decisions and which will need important input not just from councillors but from the communities and community organisations like BSARA to help survive the bleakest period in my 30 years experience in local government.”