Tuesday, 09 February 2016

Reduce number of city councillors to save money, enhance democracy

There has been much in the news recently about political boundary changes and reviews.

John Stevenson photo
John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle

And whilst it is the Parliamentary boundaries (and the ensuing shenanigans) that may have hit the headlines, the local government boundary proposals right here in Cumbria also throw up some interesting questions.

At the end of last month, the Local Government Boundary Commission published its final recommendations for the Cumbria County Council divisions, with elections taking place in May 2013. I had called for the number of councillors to be reduced to 65 and was a little disappointed that the commission decided to retain the number at 84.

But whilst I believe unitary councils are the best way forward for Cumbria, an immediate opportunity has arisen as a result of these boundary changes to help improve representation on Carlisle City Council.

Because of the review there are now going to be 18 county council divisions in the Carlisle district. I believe it would enhance local democracy and save money if the city council had 36 councillors - two for each city ward - with the same boundaries as the new Carlisle county council divisions.

In addition, there should be an all-out city election every four years. This, again, would save money while allowing whoever wins the election to get on and govern with their agenda for a four year period. A progressive modern council would embrace this opportunity. We will just have to wait and see if this ever happens.

Cumbrian Run
Inspired by the dedication, athleticism and sheer talent of the Olympians and Paralympians, I have been training for the Cumbrian Run which takes place in early October.

The Cumbrian half marathon is undoubtedly one of the big sporting events in Cumbria and this will be the run’s 30th year.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, famously said: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.”

I will very much be following that philosophy on the Cumbrian run – I’m going to have to!

My own personal goal is to break 1h 45min - but the reality is everyone who completes the half marathon is doing it for their own reasons and with their own goals in mind.

All will be winners in lots of different ways - with many raising money for charities and other organisations.

And to all those who are out there pounding the streets in preparation – keep going and I look forward to seeing you, and running with you, on October 7!

By John Stevenson MP
Published: August 30, 2012


Have your say

As a recently retired civil servant I was surprised that you had shown an apparent lack of judgement in accepting hospitaltity at the Olympics from Nestle despite being Chairman of the Commons Food and Beverage committee. As civil servants we were instructed not to accept hospitality if the public could perceive it as having an influence on future decisions. The fact that no tax payers money was involved in funding this junket is irrelvant.I was under the impression that the same rules applied to Crown servants.Would you please explain why your acceptance should not be considered a misjudgment.

Posted by JOHN NORBURY on 13 September 2012 at 15:55

What no reaction from Labour? There's a surprise! I have to say though that I for one agree with our MP. There is simply too much repreresentation in this city and county. The county, as a starter for ten needs abolished. I do not identify as being part of Cumbria, it is an alien 1974 creation foisted on us. I was born in Cumberland, and I will die in Cumberland. But I digress. The number of city councillors does need looked at and I've never understood why we should have elections each year for a third of the council up for election, and in having such a system each ward has 3 councillors. What a complicated and let's not forget, expensive system. I say bring the number of councillors down and likewise only have elections every four years - but ONLY for the City Council as frankly the County Council is beyond useless and has never served the people of Carlisle. It is only interested in looking after its chums in West Cumberland and Furness. Abolish the county of Cumbria, bring back Cumberland and Westmorland and make Carlisle a great County Borough again to give us a council with real democratic clout and bring the political process that bit closer to the people.

Posted by Irene on 8 September 2012 at 04:21

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