Ever Fewer Councillors

The Welsh Government is consulting on its proposed directions to the Local Government Boundary Commission. The effect of the proposals would be to reduce the number of Councillors from 1248 to 616 as the Government seeks to reduce the number of local authorities to 7 or 8.

It seems that Wales now has a pattern of halving its number of Councillors every 20 years. The 1972 Local Government Act reduced the number of councillors from over 6000 to 2200. The 1994 Local Government (Wales) Act reduced the number of councillors to 1200 and the proposal is now to reduce again to 600. Up to 1972 there was a councillor for every 500 residents in Wales; the proposal for our future is to have one councillor for every 5000 residents.

This changes our political culture. Not so long ago most extended families could refer to a family member who had been a decision taking member of a council which built houses, provided schools, fixed the drains, ensured a local supply of energy and got the grass cut.

In contrast, the proposed future is that government should be done solely by those who are not one of us, “l’etranger” – a tribe of others called politicians who will be ever more maligned and denigrated for not being like the rest of us. Separated from the political process, people will not put their trust in collective remedies to the problems they face. The future will be that of anomic individuals relating only to the global call centres of competing corporations.

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