Number of Bury councillors 'should be slashed by a third' to save cash (From Prestwich and Whitefield Guide)
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Number of Bury councillors 'should be slashed by a third' to save cash
THE number of councillors should be slashed by a third to save taxpayers’ cash.
That is the suggestion of Bury’s two opposition parties and though Labour leaders said it could work, they say it would need government reform.
Debate has been raging at the town hall this week after Bury Council published councillors’ expenses for the 12 months up to this April.
The figures show a total bill of £590,133, an average of £11,571 per representative, or £9.67 for every one of the borough’s 61,000 residents.
Of that, £395,450 went on a basic allowance, with all councillors getting £7,949 for giving up their time to help constituents.
A further £1,010 went on travel and food and £175,744 was paid out for “special responsibilities”, which is generally in exchange for councillors attending specialist meetings and taking on extra casework.
The ruling Labour group has stuck to its promise to reduce councillors’ expenses by banning claims for travel within the borough and reducing the special responsibility claims by almost £60,000.
The council leader, Cllr Mike Connolly, led by example by reducing his own pay from £33,123 to £30,339.
However, Labour was criticised in April for creating seven new deputy Cabinet posts, though the party defended its actions on the grounds that the money came from cutting another paid role.
And, with the council needing to make at least £17.4million of budget cuts in the next two years, Bury Conservative leader Cllr Iain Gartside suggested Labour could get rid of 17 councillors.
He said: “We have suggested the possibility of reducing the number of councillors per ward from three to two in order to save taxpayers money.
“We have proposed to reduce the council’s top managers’ pay, special responsibly allowances, reduce the number of cabinet posts and abolish the newly created cabinet posts to save £371,000, but Labour did not support them.”
Bury Lib Dem leader, Cllr Tim Pickstone, said: “We would be happy to look at the number of councillors if that was the best thing for local people and local democracy.
“We’ve consistently always supported reducing the cost of councillors and have never voted in favour of pay rises for councillors.
“By contrast, earlier in the year Labour invented seven new paid roles for their own councillors with a new role of deputy cabinet member.”
Bury Labour deputy leader Cllr John Smith said: “Reducing the number of councillors would require a review of all wards and boundaries, which would take time and money.
“We are suggesting to government that a root-and-branch review of democratic representation should be undertaken across government and local authorities. We cannot do it in isolation.”
He added: “It’s an idea we should look at, but it isn’t as simple as proposing it one day and bringing it in the next.”
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