Parish councils opposed to cull

Thursday 11th April 2013 10:00 pm

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Richard Yonge, chairman of Yealmpton Parish Council, and Keith Baldry, South Hams councillor for Yealmpton, write:

In last week's Gazette, you reported that the Local Government Boundary Commission is suggesting that South Hams Council should cut its councillors from 40 to 30.

The proposal seems not to take account of the changing role of local councillors as a result of the Government's 'localism' agenda.

Good local councillors will need to spend more time in touch with their local communities. They need not only to attend their parish council meetings, but also many more events and be available for local people.

This will be harder to do if their responsibilities are spread across a number of communities.

By reducing the number of councillors, the geographical area to be covered by each ward member will increase. This may work in an urban area but in rural wards it ignores historic associations. Imbalance of the number of voters per councillor is less of a problem than the imbalance of the area covered by the wards.

The Boundary Commission appears to be ignoring the results of its own consultation.

Parish councils are the groups most in touch with local needs. Of those who responded to the consultation, 90 per cent said they wanted to keep the present arrangements for district council representation. What was the point of the consultation if the comments from parish councils were not taken into account ?

A way forward might be the creation of a South Devon single authority which combined the responsibilities of county and district. What is now suggested is a tinkering without reason other than change for the sake of it.

Until there is a move to a unitary authority we suggest the status quo continues.


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