Mayor calls on commission to slash size of his council

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WORK which could lead a council shedding two-thirds of its members has been welcomed by its leader, who said most of his colleagues “have very little to do”.

Doncaster mayor Peter Davies made his comments after the Local Government Boundary Commission for England announced it would start preliminary work on the project in April.

Mr Davies, who is up for election in May, said in his election manifesto in 2009 he would call in the Boundary Commission after claiming the authority’s 63-member structure was “wasteful”.

Yesterday he said: “I am pleased to announce that following my request the Boundary Commission will at last begin looking into how we are politically represented by councillors in Doncaster.

“It has long been my view that reducing the number of councillors and the huge burden they put on the local council tax payer is essential.

“At the moment the outrageous bill for political salaries, known as allowances, comes to over £1m and most of them have very little to do.

“Politicians generally are very good at protecting their own positions and incomes, but this commission is at last a real opportunity to cut them for a change and discuss a better future.

“We need a smaller, more focused, more energetic council and reducing numbers was one of my key election pledges. I am therefore delighted to welcome the Commission as it begins its work.”

It is understood that the first phase of the Boundary Commission’s work on “determining council size” will be complete by October.

Staff from the commission will meet with the full council, the mayor, the leaders of the council’s political groups, parish council representatives and council officers as part of the project.

A Doncaster Council spokesman said: “Submissions can be made by the council, the Mayor, political groups and any other interested party.

“The Commission would then typically expect to meet with the Mayor, group leaders and a cross-party working group prior to a meeting of the commission in October when it will consider the council size of Doncaster.

“The commission will then indicate the decision it is minded to make and launch a public consultation on the number of councillors it feels appropriate for Doncaster.

“This would be based on the information and evidence provided. The commission will aim to ensure that the councils has the right number of councillors to take decisions and manage business in an effective way.

“The Commission will look to determine how work and responsibilities are distributed across the council.”

If a change is recommended as a result of the examination, it is expected that it will be ready for implementation by local government elections in May 2016.