At a meeting of the Finance and Democracy Committee to be held on Monday 23rd November, Members will consider proposals to reduce the number of Elected Members in the Fylde Borough from 51 to 37.

The proposal forms part of a Local Government Boundary Review which was triggered in Fylde because of electoral inequality resulting from residential development and population growth in particular areas of the borough.  At the meeting of the Committee on 28th September, it was agreed to establish a cross-party working group of members in order that a submission could be prepared for the Local Government Boundary Committee with respect to the council size.

The draft submission to be considered as part of the meeting is based on the template provided by the Boundary Commission which establishes its key lines of enquiry with respect to the first phase of its work.  This is based on the following:

  • Overview of the local authority profile
  • Outline of the proposed governance model going forward
  • External partnerships overview
  • Commentary on community leadership role
  • Casework approach/analysis
  • Comparison with others
  • Summary of the council size position

Leader of Fylde Council Cllr Karen Buckley who Chaired the working group stated: “It was clear from the outset of the review that 51 councillors for a district council the size of Fylde is out of kilter with other similar authorities and we need to slim down.  Councillors are local people who want to give back to their community and bring about improvements for residents.  Most of them responded to a survey as part of this exercise and said that their council work took up more time than they expected when they first stood for office.  Reducing the council size will increase their workload further and so it was necessary to review how we organise the committees to streamline the structure where possible.

“The committee system will remain but be modernised to merge the four programme committees: Tourism & Leisure, Operational Management, Environment, Health & Housing and Finance & Democracy into one policy committee which will meet more often.  We have also decided to bring scrutiny back so that members can get underneath the skin of decision-making to aid transparency and accountability.”

In summary, members have proposed that there are 37 council seats going forward.  Based on discussions around the governance model this would give every councillor the ability to sit on 2 committees each in theory.  This has the advantage of giving a clear signal to those standing for office in the future of the expectation in terms of their input into participating in the council’s decision-making framework.

It is also anticipated that the Policy Programme Committee, together with the Internal Affairs and Community Focus Scrutiny Committees will each have a membership of 12 on each committee.  The will ensure that every member will have a role in the council’s governance structure in terms of membership of either the Policy Committee, or a role on one of the two scrutiny committees (bar the Mayor who maintains more of a politically neutral role in their year of office), as well as a role on one of the other committees within the decision-making structure.  All members will fulfil a role on full Council also.

Councillor Buckley added:

“Reduced numbers and a streamlined committee system will move decisions along quicker and scrutiny will improve the quality of those decisions so I hope the council adopts these proposals for submission to the Boundary Commission.”

The full committee agenda can be found on our website here, and updates on the decisions made during the committee meeting will be provided next week.