Aim to cut number of county councillors in Somerset

Somerset County Council has won backing for its proposal to cut the number of county councillors from 58 to 55.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) which is reviewing Tory-run Somerset said it was "minded to support" the idea.

Council leader Ken Maddock said: "We are reducing the cost of local politics without damaging local democracy."

The Lib Dem opposition said an increase to 59 councillors could improve local democracy at no extra cost.

Lib Dem leader at the county council, Sam Crabb said: "With 59 councillors the number of voters in each constituency would have been almost equal across the five district councillor areas."

If the changes are approved, one councillor would be removed from Mendip, South Somerset and Taunton Deane respectively.

According to a council report in July, there could be an expected saving of £40,000.

The Lid Dems said their proposal was "cost-neutral" and it was "difficult to put a value on democracy".

Their proposal would involve reducing each councillor's allowance to accommodate the extra councillor.

Any changes to the Somerset map would take effect from the next council elections in May 2013.

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