Leader of Telford Conservatives, Cllr Andrew Eade, has called for the number of councillors in the borough to be reduced from 54 to 44. A spokesman for Telford Labour (presumably Cllr Shaun Davies) says that it would reduce representation and overwork borough councillors.
Cllr Eade is correct in saying that we don’t need so many borough councillors but just reducing the number of councillors isn’t an answer in itself – a more significant change in the balance of power and boundaries is needed.
Some wards have three borough councillors which is clearly unnecessary whilst other wards only have one and would benefit from more. Wards such as Dawley Magna and Ketley & Oakengates have large populations which qualifies them for three borough councillors yet wards such as Church Aston & Lilleshall and Ercall Magna which cover a large and diverse area but have a small population qualify for only one. A large, homogenous area such as Dawley or Oakengates doesn’t need three borough councillors to represent it whilst a large, rural, disparate area such as Church Aston or Ercall Magna is clearly harder to properly represent with only one.
A transfer of power is also needed from the borough council to the town and parish councils. Truly local services and decision making are better off in the hands of a parish or town council than the borough council. How likely is a borough councillor in the large town of Wellington (population 20k+) to know what’s best for the rural village of Kynnersley (population 180) and vice versa? This is why we elected town and parish councils and this is why we need more decision making taking place at the lowest level.
Nationally, UKIP believes in real localism with decision making taking place at the lowest practical level and in Telford & Wrekin we already have a local policy of devolving planning to parish and town councils. We believe in devolving even more decision making from the borough council to parish and town councils either formally where the law allows or informally where it doesn’t.