Decision to keep 60 Oldham councillors branded 'disappointing'

Thursday, January 7th, 2021 4:30pm

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter @CharGreenLDR

A new map of council wards is being drawn up for Oldham but some politicians have slammed the decision not to reduce councillor numbers.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has launched a ten week consultation which will help draw new ward boundaries for the borough.

Currently there are 20 electoral wards, represented by 44 Labour councillors, eight Liberal Democrats, four Conservatives and two Independents. There are two vacant seats.

The Oldham Liberal Democrats have argued since 2012 that the number of councillors should be cut from three to two per ward – a reduction of 20 councillors in total.

They submitted a proposal to the Local Government Boundary Commission, estimating it would save taxpayers ‘at least’ £190k a year and would also make further savings as fewer local elections would be needed.

All members of the council currently receive an annual basic allowance of £9,976.

However following a consultation last year, the Commission has ruled that the number of councillors in Oldham should remain at 60.

Opposition leader, Coun Howard Sykes (pictured), said the decision was ‘disappointing’.

“Times have changed since the current councillor numbers were agreed upon,” he added.

“The committee system has been replaced with a cabinet so only a handful of councillors are involved in daily decision-making. 

“We now live in a world of social media, emails and online meetings rather than taking letters to a typing pool or resorting to faxes, making the conduct of council business far quicker and easier, without the time-consuming commuting.

“Even more important the number of staff at the council and the budget with which the council delivers services have halved over the last decade.

“We believe it is only right and proper that the number of councillors should be reduced and both staff numbers, services and budgets have.”

The Commission now wants to use local views about which communities should be part of the same ward – such as whether they share leisure facilities, have shared issues, or whether there is local geography like rivers or roads that people believe form ‘strong boundaries’ between neighbourhoods.

Professor Colin Mellors, chair of the Commission, said: “We want people in Oldham to help us.

“We are starting to draw up new wards for Oldham council. We want our proposals for new electoral arrangements to reflect communities.

“We also want them to be easy to understand and convenient for local people.

“Residents and local organisations can help us understand community ties and identities at this early stage of the process.

“Just tell us what you think and give us some details why you think that. It’s really simple, so do get involved.”

People can also give their views by e-mail at reviews@lgbce.org.uk, on the consultation website, and by post.

The consultation will run until March 16.

Weather

  • Thu

    4°C

  • Fri

    4°C

  • Sat

    2°C

  • Sun

    1°C

  • Mon

    1°C