Allowances review for Calderdale councillors could take time

A review into councillors’ allowances at a West Yorkshire authority is under way but slowed at the moment because of a boundary review.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 24th June 2022, 10:00 am

Standards Committee councillors at Calderdale heard it needed to be co-ordinated with Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBC) review which might affect the number of councillors the authority will have going ahead.

The councillors had asked for a progress report and Head of Legal Ian Hughes updated them by saying the requested review was under way but the LGBC review would have an impact.

This is a separate review from one being undertaken into Parliamentary constituencies which itself could see elements of Calderdale in three different seats, “Calder Valley”, “Halifax” and “Batley and Hipperholme”.

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As part of the commission looking at ward boundaries within the council area, the authority has make its submission by March next year, giving a forecast of the number of electors.

And with its findings stretching to at least 2029, there had to be an element of futureproofing to it, said Mr Hughes.

The commission panel, independently chaired, will also look at the size of the council and would invite it to submit a number it thinks appropriate for the number of councillors – currently there are 51, justifying the numbers.

Although financial costs were an element of that, the commission would not entertain dilution of the delivery of democracy if numbers were reduced, he said.

The current council system sees one councillor elected in each ward each year with a fourth “fallow” year, with councillors serving a four year term.

The other option would be all the councillors elected every four years, members heard.

Alongside this a decision need to be made on whether Calderdale councillors’ allowances would be increased or decreased from municipal year 2023 and work is continuing through the summer together with work needed by the LGBC review.

As it has financial implications either way, Mr Hughes said the committee needed to deal with the issue by the autumn so proposals on allowances could be put before the annual Budget Council in the early months of the new year.

Party group leaders and councillors will be involved in the consultation process, he said.

Another factor likely to be in the discussions was the number of members relating to rural areas and townships, councillors heard.

All in all, issues including workloads and the way Calderdale Council operated were the sort of items on which councillors were likely to make in submissions, which they would be invited to make.

Co-opted member Val Stevens said in terms of councillor numbers potential reductions or additions would likely only be around six in number either way – less councillors would mean less democratic accountability.