COUNCILLORS from within the same political parties could be set against each other as they compete for fewer posts under a new regime.
There will be 222 fewer councillors across Cheshire when the county council and six district councils are replaced by just two councils – serving West and East Cheshire.
Each new ward will be based on a county council “division” but with just three councillors representing an area currently served by up to seven councillors.
The Labour division of Blacon, Chester is presently served by county councillor Brenda Doyle and his socialist colleagues from the city council: Cllr John Price (Blacon Hall), Cllr Norman Stainthorp (Blacon Hall), Cllr Judith Stainthorp (Blacon Hall), Cllr Ethel Price (Blacon Lodge), Cllr Reg Jones (Blacon Lodge), Cllr Marie Nelson (Blacon Lodge).
Cllr Doyle, 70, who has decided he will stand for elections to the new authority in May, does not know how many of his colleagues will also throw their hats into the ring, but commented: “We start as friends and we will end as friends even if we get a bit grumpy in between!”
Cllr Doyle is philosophical about whatever the future holds.
“If I’m not selected I will have more time to watch Everton and hopefully not see them get beaten by Oldham like they were at the weekend.”
A reduction in the number of councillors poses a similar problem for the Tories in the Conservative division of Broxton as it is represented by county and city councillor Eveleigh Moore-Dutton (Broxton & Malpas), alongside ward councillors Ann Wright (Malpas), Neil Ritchie (Tilston), Mike Jones (Tattenhall) and Carol Weaver (Tattenhall). Just three councillors will be needed, but again it is unclear how many of the existing Tory councillors would wish to continue.
Cllr Moore-Dutton, 49, who is putting her name forward for the new authority, would have preferred to see better joint working between the county and district councils rather than wholesale change.
“I thought there was a growing commitment to joint working. I feel that’s being wasted and it seems a shame.”
But she added: “I have always felt that whatever the structure, my job is to represent people and try and improve things incrementally. I’m always phlegmatic.”
Later this month, shadow bodies, called joint committees, will be appointed for Cheshire West and Cheshire East – comprising six members of Cheshire County Council and three members of each district council forming the new unitary authority.
Then in May, members of the two new unitary authorities proper – 72 councillors for Cheshire West and 81 for Cheshire East – will be elected and take on job of creating the new organisations.
These bodies will run alongside the existing authorities until March, 31, 2009 during a transitional period. The new councils will take control from April 1, 2009.