Southport journalist Martin Hovden writes:
In just a few weeks Southport residents have the opportunity to elect councillors in the town’s seven wards (areas).
They are there to represent and help the residents of the town. And I’m sure they do their best to wave the flag for their particular area.
But do we really need so many of them?
Each ward (Ainsdale, Birkdale, Cambridge, Dukes, Kew, Meols, Norwood) has three representatives on Sefton Council – so that’s 21 in total for Southport.
Like many voluntary groups, charities and community activists, our local politicians do some good work in the town.
But unlike our voluntary sector, our local politicians don’t do it for free – and they love to have photos of themselves doing their community work. Each councillor is paid just under £10,000 per year and when you add in other expenses including special responsibility allowances they cost us nearly a quarter of a million pounds a year. And that’s just for Southport.
Let’s face the cold hard facts. When we finally start to recover from the Covid pandemic, there’s going to be a massive bill to pay.
Local government will be forced to make cuts to services. Can we really afford to pay nearly £250,000 a year to 21 local politicians?
I’ve covered and reported on local politics here on Merseyside for 50 years. I’ve sat through endless debates in committee rooms and council chambers. Many were a complete waste of time.
I’ve met some incredibly hard-working councillors of all three main political parties. But the hard working ones are, I’m afraid to say, the exception rather than the rule. Many are simply there to agree with everything their leader says and vote accordingly. As a result many of the debates are dominated by people who like the sound of their own voice.
I was going to suggest we cut the number of councillors down to one per area, that is seven in total. But I strongly believe that ONE councillor – paid a reasonable full-time salary – with a full-time member of staff will be sufficient.
He or she will work in conjunction with the town’s MP. The councillor will be responsible for local issues, while the MP will spend the majority of their time in London and look after national and international matters.
By my reckoning, we instantly save £150,000 a year for services and projects in the town.
Whatever your view, don’t waste your vote on Thursday, May 6.