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Cornwall proposes to cut councillors

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Cornwall Council believes it needs to reduce its number of councillors – by as few as eight.

There are currently 123 councillors sitting on the unitary authority and the council believes it is “not too large for the organisation as it is currently constituted”.

It has proposed between 105 and 115 councillors should sit on the authority from 2021.

The recommendation is contained in the council’s first draft submission to an electoral review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. The draft submission is to be approved by full council today. The review was a condition of the council’s devolution deal with government.

At the last Census in 2011, there were about 532,000 people living in Cornwall. Forecasts indicate the number of people entitled to vote will be 447,919 in 2023 – an increase of more than 5% on current numbers, the report said.

Analysis of the electorate to councillor ratio at other local authorities showed Cornwall was “broadly in line with comparative councils”, the report said. It added: “If anything, it demonstrates that Cornwall is currently under-represented versus many other authorities.”

The document said some of the council’s services will be “progressively devolved to other parties, including in particular local councils” in the future. It added: “We would expect that the overall level of councillors’ casework will not diminish and, in fact, there is an argument that it could increase because of the devolution process.”

However, the council believes it will be “possible for members to find efficiency savings in the way that they carry out casework” through technological advances.

A second draft submission can be submitted by 16 December before Cornwall can make its final representations on the proposed size of the council by 3 March next year.

It will then be up to the LGBCE to make a final decision on the number of councillors it thinks should sit on Cornwall Council from 2021.

LGC analysis of data shared exclusively by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England showed there are nearly 500 fewer councillors now than there were in 2010.

Meanwhile, a separate internal governance review, also a condition of the devolution deal, has rejected the idea of the council, which has a leader and cabinet model, adopting a directly elected mayor “at this time”. The report added the decision should be “revisited should circumstances change in the future” though.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • This is very timid. Cornwall currently has more councillors than the country’s largest local authority, Birmingham City Council, despite serving a population around half the size. It also has 213 parish councils. As parish councils have steadily acquired further delegations and increased engagement then there are good grounds for a larger cut.

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  • There does need to be a,national agreement regarding Councillors and population represented. The Boundary Commission is a law unto itself. The electors of Birmingham, the largest LA in Europe is to have the number of Councillors cut from 120 to 101, representing by either 1 or 2 Cllrs. This is not democratic or representative, but forced on Birmingham by the Boundary Commission who would not listen to reasoned arguments.

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