FROM the start of the New Year, it has been most interesting to read our local politicians continue to engage in their usual game of political point scoring.
The subject, ‘how many councillors we should have and what expenses they should be able to claim in future’.
At a time when local businesses are being forced to close and an increasing number of people are losing their jobs there are surely much greater priorities warranting debate than this?
Whatever the motive for this latest proposal from the Conservative group, we can be certain nothing will happen before the local elections in May.
Therefore, the cynics among us may see this as nothing more than political grandstanding in order to suggest to voters that somehow the Conservatives represent better value for money than the present Lib Dem-controlled Borough Council.
This from the Conservatives who it is claimed at one time wanted to increase their allowances by more than 50 per cent when they were last in power.
Is reducing the number of councillors and freezing their expenses a good thing? At first glance the answer might be ‘yes’ but let’s look in more detail at what is proposed.
It’s reasonable to assume roughly the same number of committees would still be needed.
This means the same number of meetings but less attendees. Would this mean fewer councillors would individually claim a larger amount in expenses for attending more meetings and taking on more case work?
If the minority Conservative Group is to be represented on all committees, this would put them under even greater pressure than at present.
We should not overlook the fact three Conservative and three Lib Dem borough councillors also sit as county councillors and are very properly entitled to claim an additional allowance for both roles.
The present political make up of the borough council is 20 Lib Dem Councillors and only seven Conservatives. People might therefore be forgiven for asking who has the most to gain from any reduction in the present number of borough councillors for each ward?
Whatever the outcome of any review of the present level of council representation, as things stand at present, if there were to be any changes, the Conservatives might stand to lose two councillors and the Lib Dems could lose six positions.
Moreover, it is difficult to see how the figures for savings being circulated can result in any significant saving for local Council tax payers.
I am sure we will hear more on this subject from both sides in the coming weeks and can look forward with great anticipation to the outcome.