Worcester could cut number of councillors - and scrap yearly elections

Could elections in Worcester be held once every four years?

Could elections in Worcester be held once every four years?

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards Exclusive by , Political Reporter

THE number of councillors in Worcester could be reduced - and elections held just once every four years in a bid to save money.

Your Worcester News can reveal how the measure - the most radical change to elections in the city for a generation - is actively being looked at in a bid to save £77,000.

The move, which is being opposed by some councillors, also includes reducing the current number of committee meetings.

The city council is under unprecedented pressure to save cash and is drawing up a blueprint to cut £4.1 million from spending by 2019.

As part of that in-house talks have been taking place over the "democratic process" to see if cuts can be made there.

At the moment the city has an annual elections process, costing around £60,000 per year, where a third of the 35 councillors are up for the vote.

They take place three out of every four years, but reducing it to just once every four years would save serious cash.

As well as that, the current tally of councillors is under review to see if can be brought down.

Although no figures have openly been debated, the belief is that slashing it by one or two could help reach the magic savings target of £77,000 if the other changes are also agreed upon.

The measures would require the backing of 23 of the 35 councillors, as well as permission from the Electoral Commission.

The Boundary Commission would also need to redraw Worcester's council wards so they still reflect a relatively equal number of voters.

It is already being discussed in private but is known to have led to sharp disagreements, including from within the Labour leadership.

Councillor Liz Smith, Lib Dem group leader, said: "If we didn't have to save all this money I wouldn't be arguing for it, but we all know we've got to look at every single area of expenditure to make savings.

"I know it will be controversial among some members (of the council) but I support it.

"We've got to make a sacrifice ourselves."

Others strongly disagree, saying it could lead to a "democratic deficit" opening up.

Councillor Alan Amos, from Labour, said: "This is the first I've heard of this - I haven't seen any rationale or research on it.

"I am open to all ideas but democracy doesn't mean you go for the cheapest option.

"I would be very wary of a trade-off between democracy and money."

Councillor Richard Boorn, cabinet member for finance, said: "Ultimately the Government funding cuts means we're removing people's jobs and services.

"So why do we feel we should be immune?"

Comments (3)

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9:06am Wed 5 Mar 14

BrownSauce says...

Less councillors and less meetings, means giving more powers to the unelected bureaucrats working at the council. That starts to sound like one step towards the EU model.

Democracy is a terrible form of government, but we have not yet come up with anything better.
Less councillors and less meetings, means giving more powers to the unelected bureaucrats working at the council. That starts to sound like one step towards the EU model. Democracy is a terrible form of government, but we have not yet come up with anything better. BrownSauce
  • Score: -1

12:38pm Wed 5 Mar 14

green49 says...

Some councillors wouldnt be missed for what they do, most are very good but i have dealt with some very useless ones.
Some councillors wouldnt be missed for what they do, most are very good but i have dealt with some very useless ones. green49
  • Score: 1

10:39pm Wed 5 Mar 14

3thinker says...

This is peanuts compared to the £millions that could be saved in senior management, councillor and meeting costs and efficiencies if Worcestershire and its district councils followed the example of other areas an set up one or two Unitary Authorities.

Come on Worcestershire, time to be BOLD. Streamline the bureaucracy rather than cut yet more services.
This is peanuts compared to the £millions that could be saved in senior management, councillor and meeting costs and efficiencies if Worcestershire and its district councils followed the example of other areas an set up one or two Unitary Authorities. Come on Worcestershire, time to be BOLD. Streamline the bureaucracy rather than cut yet more services. 3thinker
  • Score: -1

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