Yesterday’s (Thursday 19th November) Sefton Council meeting at Southport Town Hall saw Liberal Democrats and Conservatives defeated in their attempt to secure a one third cut in the total number of elected members. The Labour majority on the Council blocked the move, even though it would save the hard-pressed local authority around £200,000 a year
The idea of reducing the number of councillors from three to two per ward, a cut in total from 66 to 44, was first put forward by the Lib Dems nearly five years ago. The then Council Leader, Lib Dem Tony Robertson, wrote to the Boundary Commission in January 2011 asking about a reduction to two councillors per ward,
Since then Lib Dems have repeatedly put forward the proposal as a saving at Budget setting time in order to save cuts in front line services, but have seen Labour block it each time using the majority they gained in 2012.
Last night saw the Conservatives coming round to the Lib Dem way of thinking with Tory leader Terry Jones submitting a motion calling for the same one third cut.
Birkdale Councillor Simon Shaw, on behalf of the Lib Dems, proposed a minor amendment to the Tory proposal. He called for half the councillors to be elected every two years, rather than have all councillors elected once every four years as the Tories were proposing.
“It’s not an enormous difference, but we do feel it is preferable that the voters don’t have to wait four years to get their chance to give their view on how their councillors are performing,” explained Cllr Shaw.
“Having even fewer elections, as the Conservatives wish, does save a bit of extra money, but the biggest saving by far is in reducing the number of councillors – and on that we and the Tories are in complete agreement, with them now calling for exactly the same one third cut as we have been saying for years. Which only begs the question of why they didn’t vote to support us in the past.”
In the final vote on the issue, Lib Dems and Conservatives voted together to support the motion, but were defeated by the controlling Labour Group.
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