The Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, Cllr Ann Ducker, is calling for a reduction in the number of councillors sitting on the council from the current 48 to around 30. Cllr Ducker will make the proposal at the council meeting tomorrow. If agreed, the council will formally ask the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to undertake a review of its electoral arrangements. Given the time involved in carrying out a review, it will not be possible to implement any changes until 2015.
The council has implemented many changes in recent years designed to streamline its working and improve efficiency. There is significant delegation of decision making to senior officers, individual cabinet members and the cabinet itself. Many of the current councillors find little opportunity or need to get involved in the day-to-day running of the council.
The basic allowance for a South Oxfordshire councillor is £2,900 per annum, so reducing the number by 18 would save over £200,000 during a four-year election term.
The decision about the precise number of councillors sitting on the council rests with the Boundary Commission, but it will take considerable note of the views of the council as well as other interested parties. Assuming that Cllr Ducker gets backing for her proposal, the council will lobby parish and town councils and other influential local groups to support its initiative.
Council Leader, Cllr Ann Ducker, says:
“This council has made terrific strides over the past few years to become one of the most dynamic and efficient in the country. We have streamlined almost everything we do whilst still delivering high quality services. We simply cannot ignore the fact that we now have more councillors than we need in this modern age of executive decision making and electronic communication. We must move with the times.
“I am also acutely aware that in common with other councils we must save money. This council’s allowances are very low compared to most but we must not ignore the opportunity to save over £50,000 a year, particularly when this will help us safeguard important public services.
“I look forward to the Boundary Commission agreeing to carry out a review so that we can have a full debate with all interested local parties about the merits of the proposal.”