There are too many councillors in Liverpool with too little to do
It has become quite clear to me that we now have too many councillors in Liverpool. I am not the first to suggest this. The Green Party mentioned it a couple of years ago as did Mayor Anderson. I understand it was torpedoed by the vested interests in the Labour Group. I did not initially support the idea because I believe that good councillors can form the pivot for many of our communities in the city. Regrettably, I feel that we do not have enough good councillors.
In the past few days I have been out about with teams in wards that we used to represent and where we are beginning to mount a challange once more. Too often I was told, “You’re the first councillor we have seen for years”.
Inside the Council large numbers of councillros attend pointless Select Committee meetings with no spirit of enquiry or purpose. They are there simply there to make the numbers up and do their ‘Master’s bidding’. This situation will only get worse when we have a Liverpool City Region Mayor from May 2017.
I have now put down a resolution to the Council which I hope will be discussed later this month and I have also sent the letter below to the Local Government Boundary Commission.
I believe that a reduction in councillors at this time with one less election in a four year cycle would save the Council at least £500,000 per year which could be better used and would improve the efficiency of the governance of the City by introducing a system which would focus Councillor’s time more effectively. As ever please let me know what you think of this idea.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE,
16, Dovedale Road,
Liverpool L18 1DW
Max Caller CBE,
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
3rd January 2015
Review of the number of Councillors in Liverpool
It is now 13 years since the Commission reported its review of the local government boundaries in Liverpool. The new boundaries that the Commission recommended were introduced in 2004 and since then much has happened:
1. We have introduced a mayoral system which has placed almost all the power of the Council in one pair of hands shielded by a cadre of Cabinet Members;
2. We have lost many of our services and are doing about 40% less than we did when the last review was enforced. Not only do we have less than half the schools we used to be responsible for our social services, neighbourhood services and other activities of the council have had huge reductions in budget and staffing.
We also have lost some of our powers. We no longer place people onto a Police Authority and will shortly cease to provide councillors for the Fire & Civil Defence Authority.
3. Communications have massively improved. For example I am able to communicate with more than 2,000 of my constituents at the press of a button from my computer although I still deliver a regular Councillor’s newsletter.
The result of these three things is that we now have many more councillors than we actually need to run the authority and this trend will shortly be exacerbated by the decision to have an elected Mayor for the City Region from May 2017. Although strictly speaking no powers will move upwards to the City Region mayo and scrutiny authority the fact is that Liverpool City Council plays a major role in the shaping of the agenda for the whole of the City Region. That work will clearly move away from us.
I believe therefore that given these changes and the fact that it is now 13 years since the last review it would be an opportune time to do 2 things:
1. Reduce the number of councillors by one third to 60 in 30 x two members wards with councillors coming up for election every two years on a four yearly cycle:
2. If necessary review the boundaries of the 30 existing wards although my quick review of the current numbers indicates that the wards are broadly OK.
If this was to be done quickly, especially if the boundaries themselves did not need reviewing this could enable a new council to be elected in May 2017 at the same time as we will vote for a new Liverpool City Region Mayor.
I would be pleased to discuss this with you further and meet members of your staff if you are minded to take this matter up.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Richard Kemp CBE
Leader, Liverpool Liberal Democrats