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Could Norwich be set for fewer councillors and less frequent elections?

PUBLISHED: 11:20 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:52 29 November 2017

Could voters in Norwich head to the ballot box less often? Pic: Adrian Judd.

Could voters in Norwich head to the ballot box less often? Pic: Adrian Judd.

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A shake-up could be on the cards over how many city councillors represent the people of Norwich and how often elections are held.

Martin Schmierer, leader of the Green group on Norwich City Council.  PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYMartin Schmierer, leader of the Green group on Norwich City Council. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norwich City Council currently has 39 city councillors, representing 13 wards, with three in each ward.

Elections are by thirds, which means people go to the ballot box for three of every four years, with a break in the fourth year.

But the Local Government Boundary Commission has triggered a review of the electoral arrangements because of disparities in the number of electors in each ward.

And the city council has been asked to recommend the council size, number of wards and the electoral cycle which best fits Norwich.

At a meeting this week, Paul Kendrick, Labour’s cabinet member for resources, said he realised there was the possibility some wards could see major changes, but he wanted to stick with 39 councillors, with three in each ward and for elections in thirds,

But Martin Schmeirer, leader of the Green group, said there might be merit in having all-out elections every four years.

He said: “A lot of residents tell me on the doorstep that they are getting fed up with the sheer number of elections. We’ve had seven in the last three years. It’s expensive and I’m worried that it is leading to apathy among voters.

“Holding all-out elections every four years could save at least £50,000 every year, and in an era of cuts to services, it seems worth at least exploring the possibility.”

But Liberal Democrat leader James Wright said: “There isn’t a great clamour for change I am happy to continue elections by thirds.”

The council agreed it would seek to stick with the current 39 councillors, that each ward would still have three and that elections would still take place in thirds.

The commission will consider whether there is a need for change, with two consultations next year, starting in January and in June.

The last time there was a review, in 2001, it saw the number of city councillors slashed from 48 to 39.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council recently agreed to switch to all-out elections every four years, from May 2019. That came after a referendum result saw more than 69pc of the public back the change. The full council then voted for it.

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