POSTPONING the local elections another twelve months could cost Buckinghamshire Council hundreds of thousands of pounds, it has been revealed.

The authority has a bloated councillor roster after the May 2020 council elections were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Bucks Council was due to trim its number of councillors from 202 to 147 last year following its formation from five councils in April 2020.

But the botched elections meant dozens of extra councillors have been claiming allowances in months gone by.

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The votes were rescheduled for May 2021 but with a second coronavirus wave leading to an increase in cases and deaths across the country, it is not clear if the ballots will still go ahead.

Leader Martin Tett, who recently faced calls to cut off excess council members still claiming full allowances, said he had been told by the government last week that the election date was ‘under review’.

Bucks Free Press:

He said: “We need to be really careful what we do about the elections. There’s still a high degree of uncertainty about the elections in May.

“We need to make sure we have the resources in place to make sure they are successful.

“If you take the difference between the current number of members, we started with 202 and we’re at 194 at the moment, and we should go down to 147.

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“Likewise, the cabinet will go down from 17 to around 10, so there will be a saving around that.

“If the elections don’t go ahead in May and they get delayed to September, then there is a budget pressure which isn’t currently within the budget.”

Sarah Ashmead, deputy chief executive at Buckinghamshire Council, revealed how much extra delaying the elections would cost the authority if it had to continue paying allowances for its excess councillors.

She said: “This year’s budget included a saving of £170,000 due to the reduction in the number of members.

“Obviously, we didn’t deliver that saving so that’s been a pressure we’ve carried this year and we’ve attributed that to covid.

“If the elections are postponed by six months then our estimates are an additional approximately £325,000 next year which isn’t currently built into the budget.

“If they were postponed by 12 months, that would be £745,000.”

Councillors discussed the issue at a meeting of the council’s budget scrutiny inquiry on Thursday, January 14.