Time to scrap two-tier councils says Shelbrooke
TWO-TIER councils should be scrapped and councillors should become full-time professionals as part of a major overhaul of local government, according to West Yorkshire MP Alec Shelbrooke.
In a new report, Mr Shelbrooke argued cutting the number of councillors overall while giving salaries to those who remain would save taxpayers more than £30m a year.
He called for district and county councils to be replaced by one tier of ‘county councils’ with councillors earning a fixed salary of £37,000, rather than the current collection of allowances, representing wards of 15,000 people.
Under his reforms, each ‘county’ would have an elected mayor sitting “above” the council with powers in areas such as transport.
The Elmet and Rothwell MP, himself a former councillor, suggested all councils should have all-out elections every five years to be held at the mid-point between general elections for Parliament.
Doncaster, York, Rotherham and North Yorkshire County Council already have all-out elections but the others retain a system where a third of the council is elected annually.
Mr Shelbrooke said: “The purpose of this debate is to start a meaningful conversation about the long-term future of how we run and operate local governance in the United Kingdom.
“Unlike the myriad of reorganisations that have taken place over the course of the last century, which have looked to add on top of existing systems, I feel we need to look at a completely new system that consolidates and empowers local government.
“At the same time, we should be looking to make changes in a cost effective way.”
Mr Shelbrooke published his report today ahead of a debate on the issue of local government reform in Parliament tomorrow.