Edinburgh ‘should cut third of councillors’

Cameron Rose. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Cameron Rose. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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THE leader of Edinburgh Conservatives has insisted the City Chambers should lose one-third of its councillors because the Capital has too many politicians on the payroll.

Councillor Cameron Rose wants to slash around 20 elected members – slimming the chamber down to around 38 politicians – and claims Boundary Commission calculations suggesting the city bulks up to 63 councillors are “anti-democratic”.

It comes after the News revealed how the quango recommended boosting councillor numbers by five.

Sue Bruce, chief executive of Edinburgh City Council, argued for six new councillors because of the Capital’s soaring population, adding that it was traditionally under-represented.

Any changes to councillor numbers will take place before local government elections in 2017.

Today, Mr Rose opposed Boundary Commission recommendations. He said: “We should reduce the number of councillors significantly. I would go down to two-thirds because we are over-represented by the number of levels.

“The serious issue of reducing the total number of councillors should be dealt with nationally and I would welcome a reduction.”

The Tory leader argued that including levels of deprivation in calculations about councillor numbers was “anti-democratic” because it bases representation on “particular circumstances” rather than “one person one vote”.

Edinburgh Greens stressed that the councillor numbers debate smacked of “rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic”.

Green convener Steve Burgess said: “Councillor numbers need to be part of a much bigger transformation in local democracy. One which looks at how councils take responsibility for the money they raise and how, above all, councils can pass real power to community level.”

Council leader Andrew Burns said the number of Scottish councillors would “actually decrease” under the Commission’s review but some “areas that have growing populations – such as Edinburgh – will see a slight increase in numbers”.

Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour’s local government spokeswoman, said: “Edinburgh has historically had fewer councillors than our population would suggest. It is important that representation keeps pace as the population expands faster than the national rate”.