TOWN council members took an unprecedented step to reduce the number of monthly meetings, citing inefficiencies with the current schedule, during this month's annual town council meeting.

Under the former administration Andover Town Council would hold four or five meetings a month, on various nights, but the changes brought by the Andover Alliance on Thursday, May 16, means all meetings except the Planning Committee will take place on Friday evenings, in the Guildhall.

Speaking after the meeting, town mayor Councillor Richard Rowles said: “After reviewing last year’s meetings and minutes we found that in one month there were no less than seven meetings, all occurring after work hours, which we felt put an unnecessary strain on the home and working life of the team in the Andover Town Council office.

“We set about looking for an alternative arrangement that would help the team in the office, councillors, and the general public.

“Under the new arrangement, the two major committees and the full council will now be held on one Friday per month, with a committee meeting starting at 5.30pm and the full council following at 7.30pm.

“The other side effect is a massive reduction in overtime or time in lieu, which can only help us on our quest to improve the value for money offered by our town’s council.”

Former mayor Barbara Long, speaking during the public participation section of the meeting, questioned the “rationale” to change meetings to Friday evenings, as all bar one of Test Valley Borough Council’s meetings did not clash with ATC’s already-set dates.

She added: “This will cost Andover Town Council considerably more to hire the Guildhall and I feel that it would deter the public from attending due to social commitments.”

Along with the change in timetable, the town council has also chosen to reduce the number of committees, with groups now limited to budgets and staffing, allotments, and planning.

Other matters will be dealt with by one of eight working groups, made up of councillors and members of the public.

All will make recommendations to full council.