In our report ‘201 Ways to Save Money in Local Government’ published last month, number 188 was reduce the number of councillors. I don’t know whether Keighley’s deputy mayor, Judith Brooksbank has seen our report, however she is proposing just that after the suggestion received strong support at a local consultation meeting.
Currently, Bradford Council has a total of 90 councillors spilt between thirty wards – three per ward. Cllr Brooksbank has proposed cutting the number of councillors by a third, leaving two per ward, meaning there wouldn’t have to be any redrawing of the boundaries which can be a lengthy and costly process. According to her, it could save £390,000 a year. Her proposal has not gone down well though with the leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Dave Green. He said:
One issue is whether the actual savings would overcome the representational issue it would cause. I know that different wards have different types of workload. The councillors I know from all parties are all extremely busy doing their ward work. It’s not a simple argument to say that you cut the number of councillors by a third and automatically save a third of the amount of money.
It may not be quite as simple as that, as some councillors may clock up some extra miles, however reducing the number of councillors by a third would undoubtedly reduce costs by a significant amount. And surely sixty councillors is enough to represent local taxpayers? Do Bradford residents really need ninety councillors? That’s for local residents to decide, although I can’t imagine the council suddenly becoming less democratic as a result of a reduction. In fact, standards could improve as there will be more competition for fewer places.
It will be interesting to see if existing councillors agree to put this proposal out for consultation next year. Or will it be a case of turkeys not voting for Christmas?