Are councillors next in line for the the chop in austerity drive?

11:44 10 January 2014

ECDC

ECDC

Archant

The increasing burden of austerity on East Cambridgeshire District Council looks set to cost the authority some of its councillors at the next election, it was revealed this week.

At the first full council meeting of the year, scheduled to take place tonight (Thursday), councillors will be asked to give their support – in principle – to reducing the number of elected members from 2015 onwards.

As it stands, the council has 39 elected members who cost taxpayers more than £214,000 in allowances and expenses in 2012/13.

A councillor’s basic allowance entitles them to a basic sum of £4068.96, with additional fees available for special responsibilities, mileage and subsistence.

In 2012/13, the biggest claimant was former council leader Peter Moakes, who collected £16,493.19 in allowances and expenses.

The proposal to reduce the number of councillors has emerged as part of the ‘root and branch’ review ordered in the middle of last year and currently being carried out by Cecilia Tredget, a former deputy chief executive of the council.

The review was ordered to help the council fund the £1million worth of savings it has to make in order to present a balanced budget in 2015.

In recent years, the council has reduced staff numbers, increased fees and charges and disposed of assets – including the Maltings Cottage - in order to cope with cuts to its funding by Government.

The proposal put forward by current council leader James Palmer reads: “The council reiterates its commitment to deliver its medium term financial strategy and welcomes the ‘root and branch’ review of services and staffing currently underway.

“The council must also look critically at the cost of the current 39 elected members in light of the current budget situation and proposed revisions to the committee structure.

“The council supports, in principle, a reduction in the number of elected members.

“Furthermore, the council instructs the chief executive to bring forward a report to the

next council meeting setting out the case and processes to achieve a reduction of the

number of councillors beyond 2015/16.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do we have too many councillors? Can we afford to reduce their number? Write to Ely Standard, Alexander House, Ely, CB7 4AF or e-mail editor@ely-standard.co.uk

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