Wokingham Borough Council could be swapping to four year, all out council elections if new proposals go ahead.

The change has been proposed by Wokingham Borough Council’s executive committee, which is made up entirely of Conservative members.

Wokingham Borough Council leader and head of the executive committee John Halsall has argued that the change would benefit the council by providing significant financial savings.

A report to the executive states switching could save £316,000 between 2024-27.

But the council’s chief financial officer has said that the saving could be even more, at over £4 million, due to the ‘hidden’ costs of having annual elections due to the disruption to council business caused by the election period.

And of the 52 unitary authorities in England, Wokingham Borough is one of 16 which has yearly elections.

READ MORE: Slough Borough Council could swap to all-out elections

Cllr Halsall (Conservative, Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe) said: “We are an outlier, now every council is going to have four year elections, not only because of the cost, but also the intangible cost of having the council shut down for about a month.

“In these straightened times we have relatively little money to work with.

“Having elections all-out allows us to have one, two and three member wards that properly reflect communities.”

Bracknell News: Councillor John Halsall, the leader of Wokingham Borough Council. Credit: Stewart Turkington www.stphotos.co.uk.Councillor John Halsall, the leader of Wokingham Borough Council. Credit: Stewart Turkington www.stphotos.co.uk.

The all-out election proposal comes as the Boundary Commission for England is conducting a boundary review of the wards in Wokingham Borough.

Cllr Halsall said that the council could not keep the current system of council wards because of the boundary view.

He explained: “The current situation is not on offer. The boundary review will not allow us to return the current situation.

“Council tax would not cover costs. It would need some pruning and a balanced budget.

“We have to go for an unbalanced budget this year because of price pressures because of inflation, the rising cost of social care, the elimination of the new homes bonus, all of these things really have an impact on the council’s budget.”

READ MORE: Bracknell and Wokingham constituency boundary change: see what is proposed here

But the move could prove unpopular, as the more populous wards which are represented by three councillors in Wokingham, Woodley and Earley would be deprived of the opportunity to vote ever year.

Cllr Halsall said: “As leader of the council, irrespective of the fact my members don’t really want change, I really can’t ignore the potential of a saving of a significant sum.”

If the proposal goes ahead, it will go to a consultation, with further decision making to be made in the future.

The beginning of a consultation to move to all-out elections will be discussed at Wokingham Borough Council’s executive committee at 7pm today (Thursday, January 27).

If approved, a consultation will go ahead – but any change to the election system would require a two-thirds majority at a full council meeting to be implemented.