The Boundary Committee for England has begun its first round of public consultation as part of its review of local government electoral arrangements for the new Durham unitary authority.
In 2006, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government approved a bid from Durham County Council for a new unitary authority covering the whole of County Durham. This means that the County Council and the seven city, district and borough councils in the county will be replaced by a new single unitary council covering the whole of the county.
As the structure of local government in the area will be changing, the independent Boundary Committee is reviewing electoral arrangements in Durham to ensure they reflect the way in which the new council will operate in the future, and how it will engage with local communities, including parish and town councils.
The main aim of an electoral review is to provide for ‘electoral equality’. That means all councillors in a single authority representing approximately the same number of electors. The Committee will consider the number of councillors to be elected to the new Council, and may propose new divisions that reflect the communities they will represent.
The review includes three rounds of public consultation. This first period begins today and lasts for nine weeks, ending on 15 September 2008. During this first stage the Committee is consulting locally to help decide how many councillors the new Council should have. Once it has formed a view on this, later in the autumn it will ask for views on new local government electoral boundaries.
Anyone wishing to submit their views at this stage should let the Committee know what they think might be most appropriate number of councillors for County Durham, and why. The Committee needs as much clear and well-argued evidence as possible in order to reach conclusions.
The review is likely to conclude in summer 2009 when the Boundary Committee makes its final recommendations to the Electoral Commission.
Max Caller, Chair of the Boundary Committee, said: ““In this phase of the review, we will be looking for information about a number of factors to help us consider the most appropriate number of councillors for the new authority. We will have to think about the role of councillors in the new unitary authority, the political management structure of the council, and the manner in way in which the council plans to engage with and devolve responsibilities to local communities. We encourage anyone who is interested in the new unitary council for Durham, from local government to community groups and residents, to submit evidence-based proposals to the Committee.”
If you would like to make a submission to the Boundary Committee, please write to:
The Review Officer (Durham)
The Boundary Committee for England
30 Great Peter Street
Gareth Nicholson on 020 7271 0638
outside office hours: 07789 920414
1. The Boundary Committee for England is responsible for reviewing local authority electoral arrangements, e.g. defining boundaries for local elections and the number of councillors to be elected, and for conducting reviews of local government external boundaries and structure.
2. The last electoral review of County Durham was conducted by the Local Government Commission for England, which submitted its final recommendations in August 2000
3. Further guidance on responding to a Boundary Committee consultation is available on the website www.electoralcommission.org.uk/boundary-reviews