Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

South Shields premier political blog

Reducing the number of South Tyneside councillors

with 5 comments

Populist move from one current and one former councillor

Well it certainly might be an idea that gains the backing of a large section of the community eager to see the perceived wasting of money halted, but as things stand these proposals from the former Progressive councillor Greenwell Jewitt, and the borough’s Old Peoples Parliament Forum 50, along with backing from current Independent councillor George Elsom seem doomed to failure not least because they are poorly thought through and poorly presented.

The idea sounds great, bringing the number of councillors down from 54 to 36 and reducing allowances by 50% would certainly find favour with a lot of people, many could probably find popular alternative ways to spend the c £300000 that might be saved (in other words the cash would not be saved at all)  but there is no substance, clarity, or technical detail in the proposals, nor does the proposal take account of what actions South Tyneside Council can legitimately take on its own behalf. Our council cannot decide alone to reduce the number of its elected representatives, nor can it decide alone what level of allowances to compensate elected members with.

These decisions can only be taken alongside the guidance, advice, and support of external organisations set up by statute governing the constitution of local councils in England Wales.

One needs to ask Cllr, Elsom and Mr. Jewitt exactly how they would propose making the reduction in councillor numbers. Would they favour continuing with fewer but larger three member seats and elections held at the same time and frequency as the rest of England and Wales, or would they favour two member wards, which require our council to be completely out of step with the rest of England and Wales? Twelve larger wards across the borough would suit me to be sure, but it would be almost impossible to get all party agreement on the shape, size, and the boundaries of these new wards, it might also lead to a reduction in Labour’s dominance at local level. However this is all academic, in order to facilitate a change in the size of South Tyneside Council, the council would need to pass a resolution requesting that the Local Government Boundaries Commission for England carry out a special and specific electoral review just for this borough, and it is a very rare thing indeed for single borough reviews to take place successfully.

Electoral reviews look at whether the boundaries of wards or divisions within a local authority need to be altered. We might conduct these reviews either to ensure fairer representation at local government elections after any significant changes in the distribution of electors, or at the request of a local authority for other reasons.

Things we look at:

  • the number of councillors on the council
  • the number of wards or divisions
  • whether the wards or divisions should be represented by a single councillor, or jointly by two or three councillors
  • the boundaries and names of those wards or divisions

Our responsibilities relate solely to local government in England.

So, as you can see from the above, this will be a major hurdle to overcome, and certainly would not happen overnight!

I think Forum 50’s idea of collecting petition signatures may be the right way to go to promote the council into thinking of considering their proposal, but a realist would recognise that there can be no political will withing the Labour Party to cut their own throats.

Nice try though guys!

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Written by curly

March 11, 2012 at 10:28 am

5 Responses

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  1. I have attended Forum 50 a couple of times and despite the protestations that it is ‘non-political ‘ this seems to be a political move. It is a top down policy…very little input by members. I wasn’t asked for an opinion or given a vote. Literature circulating to pensioner groups tin an attempt to get signatures is dishonest and does not spell out any of the practicalities, It personalises the debate referring to Councillors making money and suggesting they should be willing to do it on a voluntary basis. Can’t see Coun. Elsom stepping forward can you?


    March 24, 2012 at 9:36 am

    • What a shame, I’ve been involved in Community Enterprises and Community Interest Companies for many years and now and they are a tremendous force for change and good when tasked with a common purpose and goal.

      Pity Fourm 50 seems to suffer from the same old cancer of certain groups or individuals pushing their own agenda.

      People power can work…


      March 28, 2012 at 12:34 am

  2. We should be more concerned about the low local electoral turn out, and the fact that there is no credible opposition. If the ” opposition” could produce a “Vision for South Tyneside” or for a South Tyne/Sunderland Partnership it would be a refreshing change. Those “opposition” councillors who tweet and blog snipe, jibe and jab, and allege all sorts of malpractices either about each other or council colleagues, but produce nothing that would inspire one to vote them in.What is even more discouraging is the fact that what appears to be propaganda damages the area, great recommendation, we are a “Private Eye” rotten borough. Curly has his critics but it does appear to me that he loves and celebrates the area, and has some constructive ideas as to how it could be positively promoted and regenerated.

    Primus inter primates

    April 7, 2012 at 8:59 am

    • having been involved in regeneration and sustainability projects I would support a sensible “Vision for South Tyneside”. I’m politically agnostic and if Curly had a vision I respect him enough to support his vision with practical help I can mobilise.


      April 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

  3. The aptly named “manuregate” article attracted almost 3 times as many blogs as the “Gazette” story about Forum 50’s 2 for 3 petition, any thoughts on that?

    Primus inter primates

    April 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm

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