Councillor Wants To Halve Number Of Off-Island Representatives

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough

A St Mary’s councillor wants to cut the number of off-island elected members by half.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough says it makes sense to look at the membership while they’re currently restructuring the employees.

Gordon says the 13 St Mary’s councillors each represent around 101 electors, while the two ring-fenced members for each of Tresco, St Martin’s, Bryher and St Agnes represent between 37 and 52 residents.

He says that’s difficult to justify and wants just one elected representative for each off-island.

He’d also reduce the number on St Mary’s by one, to twelve.

Gordon feels this would give fairer democratic representation, increase efficiency and cut costs.

He says the islands have frequently had difficulty finding sufficient people to stand and since 1993, the majority of off-island candidates have been returned unopposed.

A Bryher seat is still vacant from last year’s vote.

It’s not the first time that Cllr Bilsborough has tried to reform the Council. He’s made two similar proposals in 1997 and 2000, which were narrowly rejected.

But he feels the new councillors elected last May might see things in a different light.

The former Chairman, the late Mike Hicks, had favoured a cabinet-style system, with fewer councillors paid a higher salary. He argued this would allow people to leave their current jobs to work as full-time as elected members.

But Gordon rejects this approach as a “despotic, politburo system” where ordinary members wouldn’t have much say. He says if a councillor lost their seat, they’d also lose their livelihood.

And he feels that a pan-islands approach, with all councillors standing for election on all islands, could leave some residents feeling under represented.

Gordon hasn’t consulted off-island councillors yet and says he’s inviting the opinion of the electorate first.

And depending on that feedback he’ll bring his proposal before the Full Council for a decision.

By law, any changes can’t happen before the next local elections in 2017.

You can contact Gordon with your views on 422244 or by email at

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