Posted by: westlancashirerecord | January 25, 2017

Tinkering With Democracy?

Yesterday the WLBC wlbcsmall committee for “polling districts and places” reviewed wards in Burscough East and Wrightington, merely to change where people can vote, one of which will cost borough council tax payers an additional £1,300. By contrast to this tinkering around the periphery, in May last year Knowsley Borough Council knowsley cut the number of electoral wards from 21 to 15, with the number of councillors reducing by 18, from 63 to 45 and making considerable savings. The new arrangements ensure that each councillor represents approximately the same number of voters, promoting effective local government. Perish the thought that WLBC would make similar cuts.

Over 6 years ago, in August 2010 I asked Wally Westley “Why do we need 54 councillors? Surely we could get rid of about one third of them with a little judicious thought? That would lead to a smaller council, a smaller cabinet (less expenses) and a smaller administration, smaller salaries for the highly paid senior staff who would have less responsibility, smaller premises and the sale of some of the capital assets we own?”

And Wally replied “The number of Borough Councillors is set by the Government and the Boundary Commission. My personal view is that there are too many and that the number could be reduced by 50%”.

Following up I asked Wally “As for the number of councillors, why don’t you instigate a review of WLBC with the Boundary Commission?”

And Wally replied “I would not want to waste money on a Boundary Commission Review or the resultant election. There are far more important matters and it would only be an unnecessary distraction. Besides there are other related issues such as West Lancs having only one election every 4 years rather than the 3 current in place or sorting out the anomaly of wards having 1, 2 or 3 councillors. Halsall Ward has a single councillor and the electorate vote twice in a 4 year cycle i.e. once for LCC & once for WLBC. Aughton & Downholland Ward has three councillors and you vote every year i.e. the first 2 years have borough elections followed by a county election and then another borough election”.

So let’s just look again at the Wally logic, dire as it is. His personal view is there could be a reduction of 50% of members. But then he, not the council, apparently believes saving money for years with less members is wasting money spent on a single event review. He claims it would be an unnecessary distraction…!

Now guess who is a member of this illustrious “Polling Districts and Polling Places Review Committee”? Yes, it’s Wally Westley, who wasn’t in attendance last night! Perhaps he was studying the news that Southport councillors are calling for a cut in the number of representatives on the Local Authority with as many as 22 councillors facing the axe. It’s been mooted a number of times by both the Southport Conservative and Southport Lib Dem Groups. Well I never! And it seems Conservative leader Terry Jones said “Once again Sefton Council has to make budget cuts in a bid to balance the books, it’s unfortunate but during difficult times such decisions have to be made. Our priorities must be to protect those that need it. I placed a motion to council to cut Cllrs in a bid to save over a million pounds”.

Where Knowsley and Sefton lead, might West Lancashire follow any time soon?

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