Councillors needed to 'explain cuts to the public'

Council latest
Council latest

Scarborough Council has halved the number of councillors it is looking to axe.

The authority had put forward the idea of reducing the number of councillors from 50 to 40 in time for the 2020 local elections.

However, now the council is proposing just cutting five councillors.

Projections of the electorate of the borough in 2023 and using Boundary Commission guidelines has lead to the reduced figure.

It would leave Scarborough with one councillor per 1,900 people. For comparison, Harrogate, which is looking to reduce its numbers from 54 to 40, will have a councillor for every 3,200 people.

Each of the borough’s 50 councillors was sent a survey and asked to make representations on any changes. Shockingly, only 36 bothered to respond.

Those who did send in their views said that rural councillors could be left with a huge workload.

The report which went before the cabinet on Tuesday added: “Others have raised this authority’s reputational issues and the continuing cuts in public services – two factors which place more onus on councillors to engage and communicate more with their constituents.”

Councillors are effectively saying that there needs to be more of them to explain why they are cutting services.

On average it was found a councillor spends 23.5 hours per week on council business.

One councillor claimed they spent 61 hours a week on council business, for another it was just seven hours.

With effect from 2017/18, the council’s basic allowance for an elected member is £4,041.24.

To reduce the total number of councillors by 10% (5), would save £20,206.20.

In 2015/16, councillors claimed £15,618.30 in expenses.

To reduce this figure by 10%, would save £1,561.83

The Boundary Commission will now decide on whether to approve the changes.