North Somerset cuts councillor numbers to save £100,000

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The number of councillors in North Somerset is to be cut from 61 to 51 to save an estimated £100,000 a year.

Up to £10,000 can be claimed in expenses by each councillor a year, depending on their responsibilities.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said: "We put in a suggestion that it could be reduced even further, but the Boundary Commission came up with 51."

The move has prompted fears among some councillors of bigger workloads and less representation for constituents.

Independent councillor David Shopland, who represents Clevedon East, said: "I now represent 3,000 voters and if you increase that load it would become nearly impossible to deal with every inquiry.

"If you reduce the efficiency of the councillors it will also make the public feel that nobody's caring for them."

But Mr Ashton said many people used the internet to get information these days instead of relying on councillors or officers.

He also said councillors' ways of working and the council structure had changed.

"They used to be sitting on committees taking decisions, but for many years now we've had an executive method of running councils where a smaller number of people make decisions and they are accountable rather than sitting on committees which held up decisions," said Mr Ashton.

The Boundary Commission held a six-month long consultation with councillors and constituents on behalf of the council.

Another consultation has begun to adjust the ward boundaries to reflect the new reduced number of councillors.

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