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Kent County Council could press case for more county councillors in Boundary Commission review

By Paul Francis

There are already 84 but county councillors could be pressing the case to have even more of them.

Kent County Council is heading for a stand off with the Boundary Commission, which is reviewing the size of the authority and the way its divisions - the areas represented by councillors - might need to be reorganised.

The review has been triggered because of the wide variations in the number of people there are in more than a third of the county’s divisions.

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KCC has been asked to submit its views and there is a growing cross-party consensus there should be no reductions in the number of politicians - and there could be a case for even more.

The cost to the taxpayer of the current 84 members is about £1.7m in allowances and expenses, excluding the costs associated with providing them with officer help and advice.
At a recent meeting to consider KCC’s stance, councillors from all parties indicated they would resist any cull in their numbers.

UKIP councillor Mike Baldock said the likely growth in Kent’s population meant a case could be made for increasing the numbers. “I am starting to think 84 is too low.”

Former KCC deputy leader Cllr Alex King (Con) weighed in to say KCC needed a council of “a similar size” in the future. “It is quite a large county and we need a similar size to the one we have now... rural councillors in particular cover a great deal of ground and enlarging [wards] would make it even more difficult to represent their people.”

Liberal Democrat Ian Chittenden said that with uncertainty over the likely growth in housing numbers, it would be wrong to downsize.

KCC is likely to back up its call to maintain the status quo by pointing to figures that show it already has fewer councillors than it should.

The average number of electors per county council ward across all counties is 9,877. If that was applied to KCC, there would be 111 divisions - 27 more than it has now.

County councillors will decide what the authority’s recommendations to the Boundary Review should be next month.

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