Less than a week after the TPA’s War on Waste grassroots demonstration on College Green outside Bristol City Hall, the elected Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, has responded to Bristol TPA supporter Roy Tallis’ suggestion that there should be a cut in the number of councillors.
'In my view,’ says Ferguson, ‘there should be closer to 50 councillors rather than the current 70.’
It is a remarkably prompt reply to Tallis’ call for a dramatic cut in the number of councillors in Bristol. Tallis, a businessman and former councillor, told the Bristol Post about his plan to reduce their £1 million allowances bill, footed by the local taxpayer.
‘I just wonder whether we need so many councillors now,’ said Tallis. ‘I would have thought a dozen at the most would be enough to represent the whole city instead of two councillors for each of the 35 wards. The fact of the matter is that very few people know who their councillor is – and even if they did, I don't think they would go to them for help if they were not of their own political persuasion.’
Responding to his suggestion, the Mayor is now leading a review of the way Bristol City Council runs its affairs.
‘My instinct says that the new process we now have,’ says Ferguson, ‘does justify having fewer councillors but it is important not to be extreme about this and to get the balance right.’ The Mayor wants to see 70 cut to 50, but Tallis wants to push it further and see the number of councillors reduced to 12.
‘I don't think democracy would be a casualty if we had far fewer councillors,’ argues Tallis, ‘because the mayor is an elected post and people can make their point at the ballot box every four years. I would like to see a debate on the issue so we ask whether we have value for money by having so many councillors.’
It is great news for Bristol TaxPayers’ Alliance. As Tallis said in his blog for us: ‘Let Bristol show the way’!
Tim Newark, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance