City faces councillor reduction

Ripon Town Hall, where Ripon City Council meets.
Ripon Town Hall, where Ripon City Council meets.

Ripon City Council may face a reduction in the number of councillors in the parish following a review from the Local Government Boundary Commission.

At a full council meeting on Monday night, attended by all 15 of the city councillors, Coun Alan Skidmore (Con) raised the issue of the commission’s review taking place across the district.

Ripon currently has two wards for the city in the county council and three for both the district and city council, but Coun Skidmore warned that this could reduce following the review.

The Boundary Commission is conducting similar reviews across the country and commonly making recommendations for a reduction in councillor numbers and may well also look at the formation of unitary authorities, according to Coun Skidmore.

The arrangements would take place in 2018 at the earliest but Coun Peter Horton (Ind) argued there should not be a reduction considering the possibility of an increased population in the city.

He said: “What concerns me is that we have got 15 councillors at the moment to look after the population of the city and to represent them and we may be faced with up to 1,000 new houses.

“We are going to have a vastly increased population and we’re talking about reducing the number of councillors which seems an imblance to me.”

However, Coun Skidmore said that “irrespective of how many homes were built”, the commission is going to be “after reducing the number of elected members, from North Yorkshire down to us”.

He said: “It is inevitable that after May 7, irrespective of what politcal stripe the Government in Westminster is, they will remove one layer of Government, it has been made abundantly clear that that is what will happen.

“There is also the question of the sheer cost of local government. You’ve seen what’s happened in the past five years and this council needs to be on the front foot to influence what goes on elsewhere.”

Coun Andrew Williams (Ind) agreed North Yorkshire’s district councils needed converting into unitary councils, saying the county council was unable to deliver responsive local government based on its geographical size.

The council unanimously agreed to postpone making a request to the borough council for a review until after the new city council was elected.