Twenty seven pages later council agrees it needs precisely 40 councillors- so no change then

FENLAND Council’s response to look at its future size produced a 27 page report and the conclusion that 40 councillors are needed – in other words exactly the same as now.

“Many members are self employed or retired,” says the report. “These members reported they would find it difficult to fulfil all aspects of the role effectively if they had to cover a wider electorate and/or balance other substantial commitments.”

The report reckons councillors can work anywhere between five and 65 hours per week although the average time commitment was 38 hours per months, up three hours since 2007.

The report says that councillors were “concerned if the work load increased due to a reduction in members then this would deter others from standing”

The review is due to be agreed at Thursday’s council meeting before being forwarded to the Boundary Commission.

The report notes a “large number” of councillors are “either twin or tripled hatted and therefore represent their community at county council and town and parish council positions.

“Forty members is sufficient to ensure conflicts of interest do not arise too often, however this could potentially increase if the number of members are reduced resulting in it becoming difficult to manage council business effectively.”

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The council will also hear of how its member engage with the community and “street surgeries are effective in areas of low literacy level. Some members have set up their own websites for their wards.

“Face to face contact with residents is important especially in areas of low literacy and where English is a second language. These techniques are effective but also time consuming.”

The council looked at dropping to 38 councillors or increasing to 42 but felt a rise could not be justified on cost grounds and a reduction would mean bigger work loads.