Proposals considered to reduce councillor numbers

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THE number of councillors representing a sprawling rural district in Yorkshire could be slashed by a third in the latest move to curb costs and streamline democracy.

Ryedale District Council will discuss plans this evening to become the latest local authority in the region to pursue proposals to dramatically reduce the number of members.

Councils in North Yorkshire covering Selby and Hambleton are also considering plans to reduce the number of members amid the Government’s austerity drive.

Ryedale District Council’s leader, Coun Keith Knaggs, claimed the current number of 30 members could be reduced to as low as 20, but he maintained any changes are unlikely to be instigated until 2019.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England will need to conduct an indepth review of the current arrangements before the proposals can be given the go-ahead.

But Coun Knaggs stressed the move would led to greater efficiency and savings for the authority, which covers the biggest geographical area in the country but has the second smallest population of any district council with less than 50,000 residents.

Coun Knaggs also said the move was in line with the manifesto pledge of the majority Conservative group, of which he is leader.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in March that a review will be launched this autumn to cut the number of councillors in a North Yorkshire district in the latest bid to cut costs.

Selby District Council has confirmed that the Boundary Commission will carry out the assessment from October as the local authority attempts to slash its spending.

The council is faced with having to cut £3m in spending across all its services during a four-year period from its annual £11m revenue budget. It has 41 members, and the review is expected to take up to a year to complete before detailed proposals are drawn up.

Other local authorities taking similar measures include Hambleton District Council, which is looking to cut the number of members from 44 to 28.

Hambleton District Council backed the plans in February and the authority is now waiting on a final judgement from the Boundary Commission. The proposed move to slash the number of elected members almost in half in Hambleton is expected to bring annual savings of about £75,000.