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Boundary Commission to recommend cutting Darlington councillor numbers
A REVIEW of Darlington Borough Council ward boundaries is set to recommend cutting the number of councillors to 50.
The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England held a six-week consultation over whether the current number of 53 councillors was too high for a borough of Darlington’s size.
It is also looking at changing the ward boundaries across the whole council area to ensure that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters.
Max Caller, chair of the commission, said: “The starting point of an electoral review is for the commission to take a view on the number of councillors who should represent the authority in future.
“On the evidence presented to the commission, we are minded to recommend that Darlington Council should have 50 councillors.”
Party leaders within Darlington Council are pleased that the commission has not seen fit to dramatically cut the number of councillors.
Council leader Bill Dixon said: “They have listened to all three political parties who made it plain that in our view the workload of councillors is only going to grow.
“Members are rightly expected to do a wider range of different things than in the past.
“Certainly I do not want members just sitting in committee meetings all the time, they should be out in the community across the borough, so we do need that level of members and the commission agreed with that.”
Coun Anne-Marie Curry, Liberal Democrat leader, said it was important to have at least 50 councillors because not all members can commit to their roles full-time.
Conservative party leader Heather Scott said she was pleased that the commission accepted the council’s cross-party agreement on councillor numbers and said she hoped the process of ward boundary changes would be equally as smooth.
She said “quick and sensible” boundary alterations would be preferable to wholesale ward changes.
The commission is now seeking residents’ views on how the new ward boundaries should be drawn up and Mr Caller said it would carefully consider all submissions.
Comments can be sent via consultation.lgbce.org.uk and maps of the existing wards can be seen at www.lgbce.org.uk.
The deadline for comments is December 10 but residents will have another chance to have their say when the commission publishes its draft recommendations in March 2014.
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