Consultation starts on reducing number of North Somerset councillors
A CONSULTATION on reducing the number of councillors which represent North Somerset has been launched.
The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people how many councillors they think should represent North Somerset Council in the future.
The six week public consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will also consider changes to the number, names and boundaries of the council wards.
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Currently there are 61 councillors representing 36 wards across the district.
An investigation into the numbers of councillors representing the authority in a bid to cut costs hs already been carried out by executive member, Councillor Peter Bryant.
The results of the investigation have been fed into the council's Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) which recognises that for budgetary reasons, a reduction in councillors is essential.
However, due to the fact that councillors are elected for a four year term, changes will not come into force until 2015.
The authority is faced with making cuts of £47.3 million - the equivalent of £1 in every £3 which is spent on council services - over four years in a bid to balance its books.
This year alone it has already approved cuts of £18.6 million.
The commission has considered the views put to it by the council and is now asking residents whether the district should be represented by either 46 or 51 councillors.
Commission chairman, Max Caller, said: "This is peoples' chance to shape their council for the future.
"We have considered the views put to us in discussions with the council and believe there should be fewer district councillors in future.
"We now need the public's help to tell us exactly how many councillors should represent North Somerset in the future.
"We want to know whether the number of councillors should be reduced to 51 or 46.
"We want to establish the right number of councillors to be able to take decisions effectively and the right number to represent the interests of all communities in North Somerset.
"Once we have taken a view on the number of councillors for North Somerset, we will re-draw ward boundaries to accommodate those elected members and we will be asking local people to have their say during that process as well."
Any reduction in councillor levels will help save cash as each member is entitled to a basic allowance of £8,136.
Some councillors who hold special responsibility, such as executive members and chairmen of committees also get paid additional allowances.
The review is expected to take between 12 and 14 months to complete.
Residents can share your views on the planned council reform by visiting consultation.lgbce.org.uk.