COUNCILLORS have been warned off plans to cut their numbers from 46 to 30.

Senior staff at Reading Borough Council say the reduction would be expensive and time-consuming in the short-term when the council has other priorities.

In his recommendation to councillors ahead of a vote on the issue at Tuesday's full council meeting, head of central administration John Painter says: "In the council's current restrained budget situation, all councillors should consider whether this is a priority to which the council should be committing its scarce resources at this time."

The idea came initially from Independent Cllr Tony Jones, who says that long-term it would save up to £200,000 and that the borough has no need for all 46 of them. The plan got some backing from the 18-strong Tory group, which kept it alive ahead of Tuesday's meeting.

When it was last discussed at the council's corporate scrutiny panel, Labour rejected the plans and the Lib Dems abstained on the vote, but it passed thanks to Tory votes plus Tony Jones'.

The make-up of the full council means the Lib Dems' eight votes could be crucial if the 18 Tories and one Independent back the plans and the 19-strong Labour group votes against.