Councillors of all three parties in Pendle joined forces last week to agree about something.

A surprise?

Well, no not really. The rare show of unanimity was their reaction AGAINST plans to cut the number of elected representatives by a third – ie sacking 16 councillors.

The proposal was put forward to ‘streamline local democracy’ and would of course save money at the same time in allowance payouts and other costs.

Cynics might say the words ‘turkeys’ and ‘Christmas’ come to mind and that those who put themselves up for election are hardly going to vote for their own demise.

But that isn’t necessarily the case.

Although the idea seems to have been strangled at birth by Blackburn’s ruling group, the Lib-Dem-run Oldham Council last month agreed to cut its numbers from 60 to 40 and some Conservative councils elsewhere in the country are making similar plans.

In Blackpool Liberal Democrats are suggesting that the number of wards should be cut from 21 to 15 with their leader claiming it is justified because in practice some elected members just don’t contribute to the decision-making process.

It’s certainly true that there are a lot of councillors around who do very little once they have been elected except claim allowances for attending meetings at which they say absolutely nothing – or at least nothing sensible.

It’s also true that local councils are under greater financial pressure than at any time in living memory and are being forced to make budget cuts which are quite literally life-changing for many people – service users as well as their own employees.

We also seem to have a central government that does give the appearance of not liking local government, at least not unless it has privatised operation of almost all of its functions.

I don’t subscribe to the view that all councillors are self-important folk who just want to hoover up allowances.

But it is sad that the political machines of the major parties pretty much fully control local authority members so there is little room for independent voices and thought.

Because it means decisions are almost always taken on party lines unless, like in Pendle, individual survival is at stake.