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Labour group calls for cut in councillor numbers

We received a Press Release from WLBC Labour Group, which is published below:

At the recent meeting of West Lancashire Borough Council, Cllr Adam Yates of Ormskirk’s Knowsley Ward moved a motion to reduce the number of elected members.

West Lancashire Borough Council has recently begun a full organisational review, in order to ensure that the council remains sustainable in the face of further austerity cuts to council funds by the Conservative Government. The motion to review councillor numbers, which was seconded by Cllr Yates’s fellow Knowsley Ward councillor, Cllr Gareth Dowling*, is in response to this review, as the restructure could allow for a change in the role of a councillor and therefore the number of members needed.

Cllr Yates, Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Resources, said, “The council faces a very difficult future, due to the ongoing government cuts which will see our funding revenues continue to fall until at least 2020. Although the council is well run, and offers good for value for money in its delivery of services, we have been left with no option but to look at a wholesale restructuring of the organisation if we wish to maintain the current levels of service in future years.

“The Sustainable Organisational Review Project (SORP) will help to deliver better customer service, as well as looking at ways to generate additional income for the council, through a potentially radical change in the organisational structure and services.

“It is therefore only appropriate that we also take this opportunity to look at the role of councillors, and the number required to provide sufficient support for residents. We hear repeated calls from opposition councillors to cut the basic councillor allowances, yet all this would achieve is to limit the type of people who could afford to take on what is often a very demanding civic responsibility.

“Cuts to allowances would mean that people who can bring different and valuable experience to the council would find themselves excluded because they simply can’t afford to be councillors (especially now that Universal Credit measures are taking effect). This Labour administration has a strong track record of looking to offer value to residents, having previously ended the free bar for councillors, which was enjoyed by the Conservatives under the Finance Portfolio of Cllr Adrian Owens, and having continuously frozen allowances since we took control, including for the next two years.

“It makes far more sense to look at the overall number of councillors we need, which is why I have called for the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to be contacted. We hope to get the ball rolling ahead of the SORP report, due to come to Council in July 2019, which will give us a much clearer idea of how the council can be restructured to provide the best value and quality of service to all residents.”

*Editors note: We have been informed from another source that the motion to review councillor numbers was seconded by Cllr Adrian Owens.

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