Douglas Council may consider reduction in numbers

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Douglas Council and Peel Commissioners could follow the example of Castletown Commissioners by cutting the number of their elected members.

Council leader David Christian will propose that the number of members on the island’s largest local authority is reduced from 18 to 12 at April’s sitting.

The change would take effect from the next election in April 2015 – and leading up to that vacancies wouldn’t be filled unless the number of members fell below 12.

Peel Commissioners is inviting people to comment on plans to reduce the number of commissioners from nine to seven from April 2015.

In January, no candidates came forward for a by-election, following the resignation of Neil Cushing.

At Douglas Council Mr Christian failed by one vote to get support for the move three years ago, at the same time as a new constitution and committee structure was approved.

He said that now was the right time to bring forward the motion again.

‘It’s based on the fact the constitution is bedded in and working and the committee structure can easily work with six fewer members,’ he said.

‘In the current climate and changes in central and local government we would be showing that we are willing to change.

‘I believe the council can work very efficiently with 12 members.’

Each ward would be represented by two members instead of three, which Mr Christian believes would not represent any disservice to residents.

Last week, Tynwald approved Castletown Commissioners’ call to reduce the number of members on the local authority from nine to seven. The change will take effect from May 2016 .

Leading up to that, from April 1, vacancies won’t be filled unless board membership falls below seven.

The move was first proposed by Castletown Commissioners chairman Kevin Weir in 2010.

He has argued that the reduction will lead to greater efficiencies and that nine is ‘top heavy’.

Speaker of the House of Keys Steve Rodan said Castletown Commissioners should be commended for their ‘initiative and proactive stance’.

He said there was an excessive number of local authority members.

He asked Infrastructure Minister Leonard Singer, whether he would be calling for other local authorities to look at taking similar steps.

Ramsey MHK Leonard Singer said there was no shortage of candidates for Ramsey Commissioners and that local authorities needed to be judged on an individual basis.

‘A reduction shouldn’t be imposed on local authorities that have got support and do serve the people,’ he said.

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