Inside the Council: More representation needed

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In the light of the condemnation of the disgraceful way Rotherham Council, its councillors and some officers performed, the issue of how councils are run is in the headlines, writes Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe).

There is a proposal in the upcoming budget to Calderdale Council to reduce the number of councillors to 34 (two per ward) rather than the current 51 (three per ward ).

It is said this will save £140,000 per year. I don’t agree with this proposal.

The way forward should be for more representation at a local level, not less. By reducing the number of councillors, voters have less choice, the talent pool available from which to pick councillors for decision-making roles is smaller and therefore poorer decisions will be made.

I’m afraid that if we want effective, grass roots local democracy it costs money. There is a coherent argument also that the council should go back to a committee structure rather than power being concentrated in the hands of just seven councillors out of the 51 available.

This would save money in councillors’ allowances whilst increasing each councillor’s involvement. In fairness both these arguments have been made recently by the Liberal Democrats on the council and I agree with them. That is not something you are going to hear me say very often.