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Group says cut in size of Lichfield District Council is ‘long overdue’

Planned cuts to the number of councillors across Lichfield and Burntwood are “long overdue”, according to a residents’ group.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has recommended reducing the size of Lichfield District Council from 56 to 47 members.

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

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

The local authority had tried to argue that the figure should say, but the Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association (BSARA) say the decision to downsize is a good one.

“We welcome the Boundary Commission’s recommendation,” said BSARA chairman Bob Smith. “This cut is long overdue.

“Following the cut, the average District Councillor will represent 1,718 voters, still five per cent below the median for two-tier District Councils in England.”

Councillor Mike Wilcox, leader of Lichfield District Council said they would examine how a reduction would impact on local residents.

“Despite the proposed decrease in the number of councillors, we will work to make sure that local people’s views and issues are still well represented and taken on board, whatever the outcome,” he said.

BSARA cited the recent disqualification of Michael Fryers for non-attendance as an example of why fewer councillors were needed, although it admitted that not all representatives should be tarred with the same brush.

However, the group said that others within the council should have taken responsibility for dealing with the situation.

“We are disappointed that fellow councillors failed to bring this matter to a head by either forcing his resignation or publicly stepping in to take on his responsibilities,” a BSARA statement about Mr Fryers said.

“It is incongruous that the District Council prosecutes housing benefit claimants who fail to “promptly report a change of circumstances”, while continuing to pay allowances when a councillor goes AWOL.

“The council should ensure that money can be clawed back in such circumstances.”

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15 Comments

  1. Cllr Steve Norman

    28th November, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I am totally unsurprised by the Boundary Commission’s recommendations. Even though there were only a tiny number of representations the Commission always like to go through the pretence of listening to all the arguments. It will be the same with ward boundaries. At the moment you can walk past a close delivering your contact details – because that close isn’t in your ward. After hearing the Commission give their presentation over 30 years I am completely cynical. What I can guarantee is new irrational ward boundaries – because that is their record.
    Whilst there were some well argued representations (including BSARA though they limited themselves to Lichfield City)many others showed a complete misunderstanding of how much money can be saved by having fewer elected members. And the Commission’s own view of Scrutiny Committees (being too large) shows their ignorance too. The size of a Scrutiny Committee is decided by the Council itself. Remember that under the Tories the Planning Committee was all 56 members! I am completely relaxed about the proposed reduction though it will be interesting to see how the Commission arrived at this figure. I am assuming Shire Districts have a future at all under the LibDem/Conservative coalition of course. Has Fabricant got a view I wonder?

  2. Jozef Nakielski

    28th November, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    how much will it save US

  3. BSARA

    28th November, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Those wishing to criticize the Boundary Commission should first bear two things in mind: (a) decisions are made based on the AVAILABLE EVIDENCE, and (b) a TECHNICAL GUIDANCE paper clearly sets out the criteria by which the review will be conducted and is available on the Commissions website.

    It is hard to see why our local political associations can be dissatisfied with the decision. The Conservative party failed to make a submission! Visitors to Lichfield Live can draw their own conclusions regarding the quality of the submissions by Labour ( http://bit.ly/17Zg8J7 ) and the Liberal Democrats ( http://bit.ly/1iX8voW ). In contrast look at the submission by the Stafford Conservatives ( http://bit.ly/1jNWSOP ) where the number of Councillors was cut substantially, with the support of local politicians.

  4. BrownhillsBob

    28th November, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Sad to see a group as generally bang-on as BSARA using the argumentative device BECAUSE CAPITALS.

    Hitting caps lock is not evidence.

    Still wondering why they’re going all out on this; suspect it’s more to do with pseudo-anti establishment street creed than anything else

    Amused.
    Bob

  5. BrownhillsBob

    28th November, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Street creed, obviously. I am stalked by the autocorrecting ghost of Steven Jobs.

  6. Jozef Nakielski

    28th November, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Am i missing something because I’m lost. Is it a good thing or bad, will it save the public money or will it just deprive them of thei local councillor ?

  7. BrownhillsBob

    28th November, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    The amount it will save will be trivial compared to the overall budget, but will satisfy the revolutionary tendency. I’m not particularly for or against, but think it’s a distraction.

    These things can be quite hard to do without affecting the political balance; of course, far less of an issue in Lichfield than other councils.

    Bob

  8. Some Bloke

    28th November, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Most people don’t know who their local councillor is, what they do, or how that might effect them. Individually councillors have little power, and influence is vested in only a few – the Chairs of Overview & Scrutiny Committees, and member of the Cabinet.

    Reducing the numbers might improve quality as political parties will need to field better candidates to win elections, maybe?

    Some Councillors are in it for the wrong reasons, social status, to wear a gold chain, or even business networking. We could afford less of these!

    Bob’s right, and the figures quoted in savings aren’t exactly clear.

  9. Jozef Nakielski

    29th November, 2013 at 12:00 am

    some? i’d say most.
    councillors are there to become mayor and then turn the Christmas lights on as some sort of desperate wanna be celebrity aren’t they ?

  10. Some Bloke

    29th November, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Nah, Joe, I’d only say some. There are a lot who are really in it for community reasons. It’s not exactly a great gig being a Councillor on Lichfield District Council. There are a number (probably the majority) who really care about their neighbourhoods and have been talked into standing by their neighbours.

    They get on the Council and then find out they don’t have that much power, and to get influence (see above) they have to do politics with their peers.

    I wouldn’t want to do it! But I’d back a decent player who does. I’ve seen some excellent Councillors, of both political flavours, do their best, give up or move on.

  11. Jozef Nakielski

    29th November, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I’d agree with that. They were all clambering to persaude me to put myself up for election here whilst I was all quiet but helpfull but as soon as I dared to say ‘no i don’t agree with that’ They dropped me like a stone.

  12. Jozef Nakielski

    29th November, 2013 at 10:24 am

    And I realised then that you’ve far more power being a campagning member of the public with a strong online voice than being a councillor. I could list a few genuine ones here that joined to make a difference but have to suck up to make that difference. Most of those usually drop out before the end of their term though.

  13. Darryl

    29th November, 2013 at 10:37 am

    @BrownhillsBob

    The amount it will save will be trivial compared to the overall budget

    Really? Because it seems, these days, the often used way to save money for budgets is to cut staff. Most other suggestions seems to be secondary.

  14. Jozef Nakielski

    29th November, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I don’t think councillors get a wage do they? I thought it was an allowance. Which is only a few thousand if i remember rightly .

  15. Darryl

    29th November, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Surely, in this climate, saving money is saving money.