War of words erupts over council size

A WAR of words has erupted between the region's MPs over plans to add ten new councillors to Suffolk County Council.The Labour and Liberal Democrat proposal was passed at a full council meeting on Thursday much to the consternation of opposition leaders, who claim it could cost taxpayers an extra £100,000 a year.

A WAR of words has erupted between the region's MPs over plans to add ten new councillors to Suffolk County Council.

The Labour and Liberal Democrat proposal was passed at a full council meeting on Thursday much to the consternation of opposition leaders, who claim it could cost taxpayers an extra £100,000 a year.

Council chiefs want to see the number of councillors increased from 80 to 90 by 2005, arguing that the ever-growing electorate would be better represented.

Former county council leader Chris Mole, now Labour MP for Ipswich, said: "Suffolk is a county that is growing and, as it has grown, some areas have lost out in terms of representation.


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"If the only way they can get the balance right is to have more councillors then that is a decision that has to be made.

"I don't think in the scheme of things the cost of democracy is all that great – if that's what it takes to get it right, then that is what it will have to be."

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But Conservative MP David Ruffley, who represents Bury St Edmunds, said he feels the county already has enough politicians.

He added: "I think the public of Suffolk will be astonished that they have to foot the bill for ten more councillors which I really don't see as justified or necessary.

"The public is already sceptical of what comes out of county hall anyway and I can't imagine there will be any support for this wasteful proposal.

"The electorate will be laughing themselves silly when they hear of more costs emanating from county hall at a time when they have seen an 18.5% increase in their council tax bill."

Tim Yeo, Conservative MP for Suffolk South, attacked the plans and said people were already angry about the cost of the county council.

"I am absolutely against it. The proposal is both badly timed and wrong in principle," he added.

"I have not met a single person in my constituency who thinks that Suffolk County Council would be better served by having more councillors.

"There does not seem to be any advantage to it, regardless of cost, which in itself is a massive reason to object. I can guarantee the one category of people that nobody wants more of is politicians."

The plans will go to the Boundary Committee for England, which will decide whether to give them the go-ahead as part of a periodic review.

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