The Boundary Commission for England has today announced that they have accepted a submission from the Conservative party to reduce the number of councillors on Gloucestershire County Council from 63 to 53. Conservatives argued that, given the cuts in services and government funding for the council, it was important that councillor numbers were reduced too. Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors made submissions arguing for a small reduction or protecting the current number of councillors.
The move would take the average number of constituents per councillor to the national average – something the Conservative submission argued demonstrated that constituents would still be properly represented. Reducing the number of councillors by at least 10% was a pledge in the 2009 Gloucestershire Conservative manifesto. The cut – roughly one in six councillors, is comparable to proposed cuts in council staff. The changes would take effect from the next election, in 2013.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, commented:
“I am really pleased that the Boundary Commission has agreed with Conservative arguments to cut the number of councillors. I could not look our staff who are facing redundancy in the face if councillors weren’t sharing the pain too. I hope that the Labour and Liberal Democrats will now reconsider their calls to protect councillors and work with the Conservatives to complete the boundary review process.”
The national average for county councillors per elector is 9,074 electors per County Councillor. In Gloucestershire there are currently 7,400 electors per councillor. Reducing to 53 county councillors in Gloucestershire would mean each represented an average of 9,085 constituents per division.