Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Cut in councillor numbers is an assault on democracy in Cornwall

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has just announced its decision to reduce the number of elected members on Cornwall Council from 123 to 87.

The change will be implemented at the next set of elections due to take place in 2021.

It is a shocking determination and I am extremely disturbed at the attitude of the LGBCE and their intention to launch an assault on democracy in Cornwall.

Prior to 2009, Cornwall had 331 councillors on the County Council and the six district councils. The centralisation of local government was then imposed on Cornwall and the number of councillors slashed to 123. And now the LGBCE has imposed another large cut in elected members, which will further increase the democratic deficit from which Cornwall already suffers. This is just so wrong.

Many people will not be aware that the LGBCE did not seek a similar reduction in the number of councillors when it carried out an electoral review of the unitary authority in County Durham, which was also created in 2009.

It was founded with 126 councillors and a subsequent review allowed the council to continue with the same number of members. So how is it appropriate that Cornwall will have to suffer a 30% reduction in the number of its elected members?

Mebyon Kernow and many other bodies have argued that Cornwall already had fewer councillors on principal authorities than almost all other parts of the United Kingdom – but these representations have been ignored by the LGBCE.

Wales has more than 1,200 councillors on its 22 unitary authorities, while Devon has just under 500 principal authority councillors and Somerset has over 400.

And yet the LGBCE expects Cornwall to get by with only 87, which – in terms of representatives per head of population – means that many other areas will have more than twice the number of councillors as Cornwall.

The top-down and undemocratic actions of the LGBCE are frankly shameful.

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