Leicester city councillors could be axed (with poll)
The number of councillors in Leicester could be cut in a move that would save taxpayers' cash.
Councillors will meet tonight to discuss the political shake-up.
The city has 54 council members representing 22 wards, but that figure is to be reviewed by officials from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
It is the first time in 10 years any changes to the city's political map have been proposed.
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The commission could decide Leicester City Council has too many elected members, or it could decide it has too few – although the latter is far less likely.
A report by the council's political governance director Miranda Cannon has revealed that this year's budget for councillors' allowances is set at £1.17 million, with a further £1.28 million for council officials who support them in their roles.
Her report said other councils facing financial pressures had looked to make savings by cutting councillor numbers and support staff.
Colin Copus, professor of local politics at De Montfort University, in Leicester, said: "It's surprising – in many councils across the country the turkeys are actually voting for Christmas and supporting moves to reduce their numbers."
However, Prof Copus said he believed such a move in Leicester, which has an elected mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, would damage the health of local democracy.
He said: "That is a short-term expedient and, in my view, would be a wrong-headed approach. That is particularly the case in Leicester, where we have a powerful directly elected mayor.
"They [the councillors] have a role to hold him to account, to challenge his ideas.
"Fewer councillors will make that very difficult to achieve."
The councillors themselves will send their views to the commission after debating the issue at tonight's overview select committee meeting.
Councillor Ted Cassidy, chairman of the overview scrutiny committee, said he thought 54 councillors was the right number for Leicester.
"I do not think we need more but I think we just about have it right," he said.
"I think we will take the view that any diminishing of councillor numbers would not be the right step.
"Having a directly elected mayor is a major change for this city.
"It's crucial we have full and considered scrutiny of what he does and inform him about any unintended consequences of what he does. It is a system that works very well."
City mayor Sir Peter said: "The scrutiny role of councillors is essential in helping me but it is not for me to say how many of them there should be. That will be decided by the boundary commission."
The commission will discuss the council's submission on its size in May. There will then be a series of consultations.
Any changes, if approved, will come into force in May 2015.
Do you think Leicester should have fewer councillors? Take part in our online poll at the top of this page.