DCSIMG

Councillor numbers 
could be cut to help save borough cash

THE number of councillors at Havant Borough Council could be reduced in a bid to save money.

Leaders at the Conservative-led authority will ask the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to do a review of the number of councillors needed in order to maintain local democracy.

There are currently 38 councillors across 14 wards in the authority’s area.

The cost to the public purse is currently just over £307,000.

Each councillor receives a basic allowance of £5,350 – equating to a total cost of £203,300.

An extra £86,429 is paid out for special responsibilities, such as being leader, a cabinet member or in charge of one of the committees.

A total of £17,518 is paid to cover the cost of phone and broadband usage for the 38 councillors.

Lib Dem councillor Faith Ponsonby, who represents Battins ward, said: ‘I think the move is long overdue to reduce the number of councillors.

‘Thirty eight councillors – we don’t need that many.’

But Cllr Ponsonby said she did not believe the move would save a vast amount as the allowance might have to be increased.

A reduced number of councillors would have to attend more meetings and do more work in their ward, she said.

Cllr Ponsonby said fewer councillors could potentially increase attendance at meetings.

She said: ‘There’s very poor attendance at some of the committee meetings and some of the information and training meetings for councillors.’

Council leader Tony Briggs said the last review saw the number reduced from 42 to 38.

There are currently three councillors for some of the larger wards such as Bedhampton and Cowplain, with two for smaller wards such as Warren Park.

He said: ‘As local government comes under greater pressure financially, obviously anywhere we can find further savings will be helpful.

‘I liken it to there being one county councillor to two or three wards.

‘Havant borough has five county councillors and 38 district councillors. If you ask yourself the question, the answer is there’s an imbalance, in my view, between the level of representation at county and the level of representation at borough.’

Once the review is complete, the council will make the final decision based on recommendations from the boundary commission.

The council’s budget will be agreed on February 19.

The council is predicting to have a deficit of £1.38m by 2018/2019 and must make more savings.

 

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