Concern over bid to dilute’ powers

COUNCILLORS are opposing moves to dilute the workings of the Royston area committee. Under savings plans it has been suggested that North Herts District Council s area committees are combined and that a central planning committee be set up. But members

COUNCILLORS are opposing moves to "dilute" the workings of the Royston area committee.

Under savings plans it has been suggested that North Herts District Council's area committees are combined and that a central planning committee be set up.

But members of the district council's Royston area committee believe that such a move would reduce the need for local councillors making local decisions.

Cllr Peter Burt told the area committee: "People like local councillors with local knowledge making decisions.


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"Change for change sake is not always a good thing," he said.

And Royston area committee chairman Cllr Fiona Hill said she did not want to see the current decision-making "diluted".

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Members rejected a suggestion for a merger of the Royston area committee and the Baldock area committee.

Cllr Tony Hunter in opposing the move said any change could see a "phenomenal amount of time" each month getting through the business of decision-making.

Liberal Democrat councillor Liz Beardwell said the loss of the current area committee would see democracy suffer. "It wouldn't work at all well," she said.

And Cllr Howard Marshall said the suggestion was a "subterfuge" for cost-cutting.

In a report to the area committee, Patrick Candler, head of the district council's community development and cultural services, said a new set up could save more than £50,000.

A new set up, he said, would reduce "the level of bureaucracy" that currently exists.

Staff savings of up to £53,000 would be created through a cut in management, administrative and development support given to area committees, he said.

He told members at a recent Royston area committee that a new set up would "streamline" the decision-making process and see less bureaucracy.

Mr Candler continued that the suggestion was "a critical proposal to produce savings".

Cllr F John Smith described the report as "interesting".

"We should be more interested in the workings of the council structure than in the savings," he said.

"People, I believe, are looking for less bureaucracy."

But he was adamant that the loss of the area committee would not solve problems.

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