Croydon Conservatives - Article From our Database
 
12 July 2016
 
Cut ten councillors, say Croydon Conservatives
 
 
 

Croydon’s Conservative Councillor Group is calling on the ruling Labour administration to support their calls for a reduction in the total number of councillors elected to Croydon Council from 70 to 60.

The Conservatives submitted this as part of their submission to the Electoral Commission review of Croydon Council’s ward boundaries, to take effect from 2018. They have also submitted it as a debate for Monday’s Council meeting, calling on Labour to support their motion.

Croydon’s Labour-run Council will argue for the council size remaining as is, at 70 members. Croydon Conservatives believe this misses an opportunity to reduce the cost of government locally by reducing the number of councillors to reflect the significant reductions in the time commitment required of members to participate in the council’s executive, regulatory and advisory committees and the reduction in the member commitment required to provide effective scrutiny.

The time commitment required of councillors is down very significantly from 1999, the time at which the last boundary review took place and the committee system was in operation.

Croydon Conservatives therefore believe that a reduction to 60 councillors is a proportional response to the changing demands on councillors, which would deliver a significant saving of nearly £500,000 every term whilst still enabling the effective operation of all committees and scrutiny. This would mean that the average councillor in Croydon would be responsible for over 100 fewer adult residents than the largest ward in Croydon already sees, and in that ward data demonstrates there is no evidence that the case loads are excessive or the councillors unduly taxed.

Cllr Tim Pollard, Leader of Croydon Conservative Councillors, said: “In a time where the Council is finding it hard to balance the budget, the Conservatives have made the bold call to cut the total number of councillors from 70 to 60.

“We are elected to represent the people of Croydon, not to take part in a job creation scheme. All the evidence shows a reduction in the number of council meetings and events which councillors are required at. We believe it is absolutely right that Croydon has the correct number of councillors to do the work required – and not one single councillor more.

“Of all the councils currently going through a boundary review, Croydon’s Labour-run authority is the only one not requesting a decrease in the number of councillors. Nearby Bexley has chosen itself to ask for a reduction from 63 to 45 members. In a time when they are spending money on music festivals and pointless reports, we’re disappointed that Croydon Labour is intent on not taking this great opportunity.”   

The Conservative councillors have submitted the following as their debate motion at the next Croydon Council meeting, taking place on Monday 18th July, calling on Labour councillors to support: 'This council backs proposals to the Local Government Boundary Commission to reduce the number of Croydon councillors to 60 (from the current 70). This reflects the significant reductions in the Council’s workforce and demonstrates a recognition among local politicians that it is only right some of the cuts must fall on themselves.'

Cllr Dudley Mead, councillor since 1980, former leader of the opposition and borough mayor, comments:

“In my 36 years as a councillor, the biggest single change in my workload came about with the introduction of the cabinet system in 2000.

“Councillors became, at the stroke of a pen, less operational. Many of the sub-committees and working parties which had kept members very engaged with the day-to-day operations of the council disappeared. Whilst many members welcomed getting some of their weekday evening’s back, all lamented the reduced ability for council officers to take advantage of the years of experience offered by members.

“The other big change in how my workload is managed has come about through the creeping impact of technology, and email in particular. In 1999 the vast majority of my casework from residents came in by letter or telephone. Nowadays virtually all of it comes in by email. Other things which were once very time consuming can now be done from the comfort of my own desk.

“All in all, I would say that technology has greatly increased all councillors’ productivity and accessibility.”

ENDS

Notes for editors

Croydon Conservatives have reviewed the workload of councillors in 1998, 2016 and periods in between. The full findings can be read on our web site but key points include:

  • In 2003 the council had 34 people at CEO, Director and Head of Service level – the equivalent figure is now 18
  • In 2013 under the Conservatives the council cabinet made a total of 180 decisions – now, under Labour’s supposedly more transparent regime they took just 83 in 2015/16, with the rest being delegated to officers
  • In 1999, when the council size was set at 70, councillors were appointed to 804 positions which amounted to nearly 3,300 meetings. This year it is 341 positions and 1,400 meetings.
  • The licensing, planning, contracts and scrutiny committees all meet less often than they used to and involve fewer members. Because Labour prefers financial decisions to be made behind closed doors by officers, members take part in only a third of the number of meetings they used to scrutinise council contracts
  • Less than half the number of people are involved in scrutiny than were under the Conservatives in 2006.
  • Councillors are appointed to half the number of outside bodies that they were in 1999.
  • The workload of MPs has gone up but the government still plans to reduce the number of MPs by 50 – so why not Croydon councillors?
  • If we reduce the number of councillors to 60, the average councillor will equate to 5,144 adults each. In Fairfield ward at the moment, the figure is 5,253, so it can definitely be done.

Cllrs Jason Perry and Jason Cummings argued in a Council meeting that we should cut the number of councillors, you can watch the debate online. The meeting took place on 18th July 2016.