Thursday, 22 January 2015

Politics: Bid to cut number of wards and elections

Calderdale Council could see fewer wards, fewer elections and fewer councillors if proposals by the Conservative group are given the go-ahead.

Council leader Stephen Baines would like the number of wards reduced to 12, with three councillors per ward - 36 compared to the current 51.

Coun Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said: “In Kirklees, your average council ward has between 12,000 and 13,000 of the electorate and in Leeds it’s around 17,00 - in Calderdale it’s around 8,500 to 9,000.

“Is it right, when we are looking for our officers to work harder and make do with fewer people, for councillors not to lead by example?”

Coun Baines would also like fewer council elections, with voters being asked to go to the polls once every four years rather than three times over a four-year period under the current system - doing this would save £500,000 every four years in election costs.

He said: “All this would have to be done through the Boundary Commission which would be a three-year process, which is why we’ll be going out to consultation on this.”

Tim Swift, leader of the Labour group, said: “We should only look at reducing the number of councillors and changing the electoral arrangements if we are sure that it will lead to more effective governance and representation - it should not be proposed purely as a money saving measure.

“Larger wards will make it even harder for electoral wards to represent natural communities.

“It could mean for example a single ward combining Todmorden and part of Hebden Bridge,” he said.

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