PLANS to cut the number of Southend councillors by a third have been proposed as leading members look at ways to save cash.

Southend Council has been preparing for huge Government cuts by looking at cost cutting options, including cutting the number of councillors, slashing allowances by a third or holding elections every four years.

The leaders of the councils’ four parties held informal talks about the ways members could share the burden of cuts alongside staff and services for residents. A reduction of councillors by a third – from 51 to 34 – and decreased pay was proposed by Independent leader Martin Terry.

He said: “We’ve got to make severe cuts, so it’s only fair councillors should share the burden too.

“But even if we did decide to change arrangements with regards to the number of councillors, it can’t come into force for at least two or three years.

“It’s quite a convoluted process.

“We need to act now because the main cuts will be over the next two years.”

But Mr Terry was opposed to the idea of elections once every four years, compared to the current elections held three out of every four years.

He said: “You could end up with a council of novices who don’t know what to do.”

The reduction of councillors by a third would save about £200,000 a year in the basic allowances paid and other costs like IT, according to council chief executive Rob Tinlin.

He said it would be difficult to make the reduction because of regulations surrounding such a move, which would need approval by the Government’s Electoral Commission and the Boundary Commission.

Mr Tinlin said all the cuts mentioned were possibilities, but they were not being considered yet.

He said: “It’s quite right members need to consider those issues at the same time as all the other potential savings and efficiencies.

“These ideas have been discussed informally at this stage among the political leaders without any conclusions.

“They are simply ideas the council may wish to give some consideration to as we get into the budget discussions for next year.”