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Cut in councillor numbers is an “assault on democracy in Cornwall”
Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has condemned the decision of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) to reduce the number of elected members on Cornwall Council from 123 to 87.

The change will be implemented at the next set of elections due to take place in 2021.

Speaking on behalf of Mebyon Kernow, Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole described himself as “extremely disturbed” by the attitude of the LGBCE and their determination to launch an “assault on democracy in Cornwall.”

He said: “Prior to 2009, Cornwall had 331 councillors on the County Council and the six district councils. The centralisation of local government was then imposed on Cornwall and the number of councillors slashed to 123. And now the LGBCE has imposed another large cut in elected members, which will further increase the democratic deficit from which Cornwall already suffers.

“This is so wrong and I cannot understand why the LGBCE is so determined to launch an assault on democracy in Cornwall.”

Cllr Cole has drawn attention to how the LGBCE did not seek a similar reduction in the number of councillors when it carried out an electoral review of the unitary authority in County Durham, which was also created in 2009.

“Durham County Council was founded with 126 councillors and a subsequent review allowed the council to continue with the same number of members. So how is it appropriate that Cornwall will have to suffer a 30% reduction in the number of its elected members?” he said.

Mebyon Kernow and many other bodies have argued that Cornwall already had fewer councillors on principal authorities than almost all other parts of the United Kingdom – but these representations have been ignored by the LGBCE.

Cllr Cole added: “Wales has more than 1,200 councillors on its 22 unitary authorities, while Devon has just under 500 principal authority councillors and Somerset has over 400.

“And yet the LGBCE expects Cornwall to get by with only 87, which – in terms of representatives per head of population – means that many other areas will have more than twice the number of councillors as Cornwall.”

Further information

In 2016, the Local Government Boundary Committee for England visited Cornwall and announced that an electoral review of the unitary authority had to be carried out.

Members of Cornwall Council initially suggested that the future size of the unitary authorrity should be in the range of 105 and 115 members, but this was ruled as unacceptable by the Boundary Commission. The Council’s subsequent detailed proposal for 99 councillors was also not supported by the LGBCE, which instead proposed a cut in elected members to only 87.

In advance of today’s announcement, there was a consultation on the LGBCE’s proposal for 87 members, but the body has ignored all representations for a more democratic number.
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By Dick Cole. Published on 3rd October 2017.

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