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Six figure saving expected if council drops councillor numbers by 12

PUBLISHED: 11:00 20 July 2019

The current division boundaries for Suffolk County Council. Picture: SCC/ORDNANCE SURVEY/CROWN COPYRIGHT

The current division boundaries for Suffolk County Council. Picture: SCC/ORDNANCE SURVEY/CROWN COPYRIGHT

SCC/ORDNANCE SURVEY/CROWN COPYRIGHT

As many as 12 councillors could be lost at Suffolk County Council when the next local elections are held in 2021 in a bid to save more than £128,000 a year.

Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said having one councillor per division made public accountability easier. Picture: GREGG BROWNSuffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said having one councillor per division made public accountability easier. Picture: GREGG BROWN

There are currently 75 county councillors representing voters in 63 electoral divisions but there is also a wide disparity in the number of voters in each ward with a 10% difference in 17 of the 63 areas.

It means that the council is eligible for a review by the Boundary Commission for England.

In a motion which gained cross party support at Thursday's full council meeting of Suffolk County Council, the authority agreed it wished to return to a structure of one councillor per division.

It means there would be 12 fewer councillors at the next election.

David Nettleton said larger towns should still have the option of two councillors. Picture: PHIL MORLEYDavid Nettleton said larger towns should still have the option of two councillors. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Conservative council leader Matthew Hicks, who put forward the motion, said: "Electoral reviews look at whether boundaries for wards or divisions need to be altered and the Boundary Commission can conduct these reviews to ensure fair representation.

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"Suffolk County Council has been out of balance now for three years. We are looking at data from evidence that has been given on the future size of this council.

"I believe single member divisions give a clear line of accountability for the public, so I am really delighted councillors Sarah Adams and Penny Otton [leaders of the opposition groups] are in agreement today."

The council will submit its evidence by August 5, with a first draft of revamped boundaries due to be published in September.

They will then go out for public consultation between September and December.

The 2019 elections at Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils featured a reduced number of seats from ward boundary changes by the boundary commission, while the creation of the new East and West Suffolk councils also cut back on the number of seats.

However, concerns were raised by Independent councillor David Nettleton who said the option of two-councillor wards in the larger towns should remain as the proposals were "too restricted".

Current basic allowances for councillors stands at £10,688.79, meaning there would be an annual saving of more than £128,000 in those allowances alone if there were 12 fewer councillors.

That does not include savings from additional allowances for special responsibilities and travel expenses.

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