Southwark Council plans to scrap its five community councils for a new scheme, which will see £2,000 per ward and a new £20,000 funding pot for communities to hold their own events in a move expected to make meetings smaller and more focussed.

Southwark agreed proposals to replace community councils with its Empowering Communities Programme in May at a cost of around £66,000 per year.

The budget for the community councils was around £375,000, with meetings held five times a year, according to a report.

A council spokesman said the new programme would cost the same as the community councils once staff costs were included.

But the five-yearly community council’s used to be “overloaded” with agenda items, according to a council report.

“Each community council has its own culture and leadership. However, the limited number of meetings and the large populations covered by each community council means that meetings can be overloaded with items with limited opportunities for residents to discuss issues of concern or be informed of the follow up and outcomes of previously discussed matters,” they explain.

The new scheme will be promoted by councillors who will have to organise at least six ward-based meetings per year using the £2,000-per-ward funding.

Community groups and residents can bid for the £20,000 democracy fund to organise events to discuss local issues. It will be overseen by the five councillors who were appointed as community champions in May.

In this role they will scrutinise democracy fund applications and also oversee meetings organised through the ward fund.

The community champions will get a special responsibility allowance of £7,851 – less than the £9,046 community chairs got.

This is because the community champion will have fewer meetings to formally chair, the documents explain.

“They will recommend which democracy fund proposals to fund via delegated authority to the chief officer. Community champions will ensure an appropriate balance of events across the borough and calendar, taking into account local meetings organised using the ward fund,” the documents explain.

Council staff will develop the criteria for funding and establish an online application process for the democracy fund with the first round open in October this year.