Oldham Lib-Dems ‘disappointed’ at Boundary Commission’s decision not to cut councillor numbers

Date published: 07 January 2021

The Oldham Council Liberal Democrat Group say they are "disappointed" to hear that the Boundary Commission has refused to cut Councillor numbers and costs by a third.

The Liberal Democrats suggested a reduction in Councillors in their submission to the Commission late last year.

Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council currently has 20 electoral wards, represented by 60 elected councillors. 

The Boundary Commission called for responses to a consultation to review the number of councillors in November.  

At the meeting of the full council on November 4, 2020, the Labour administration backed a report proposing that the status quo be maintained, but in the vote the Liberal Democrats abstained. 

The Liberal Democrats instead submitted their own proposal that the number of Councillors be reduced to two per ward, believing that less councillors are now needed with a Cabinet-run council and with most business being conducted using new technology. 

This is a proposal they have made every year at budget time since 2012. 

It's claimed that this measure would save Council taxpayers at least £190,000 each year, with a further saving as there would only need to be two local elections every four years, instead of three at present.

The Boundary Commission rejected the proposal.

The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, said: “This is disappointing news. 

"Times have changed since the current councillor numbers were agreed upon.  

"The Committee system has been replaced with a Cabinet so only a handful of Councillors are involved in daily decision-making. 

"We now live in a world of social media, emails and online meetings rather than taking letters to a typing pool or resorting to faxes, making the conduct of council business far quicker and easier, without the time-consuming commuting.

“Even more important the number of staff at the Council and the budget with which the Council delivers services have halved over the last decade,” added Councillor Sykes. 

“We believe it is only right and proper that the number of councillors should be reduced and both staff numbers, services and budgets have.”

The Boundary Commission is currently asking for views on changes to council wards in Oldham.

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