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Durham residents: have your say on electoral division recommendations

25th May 2011

Durham residents: have your say on electoral division recommendations

24th May 2011

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is asking people across Durham to comment on its draft proposals for new electoral arrangements for Durham County Council

A 10-week public consultation on the recommendations begins today and will end on 1 August 2011.The consultation is open to anyone who wants to have their say on new electoral divisions, division boundaries and division names across the county.

The Commission’s draft recommendations propose that Durham County Council should have 126 councillors – the same number as at present. The proposals would mean those councillors would represent 63 divisions with a mixed pattern of single-, two- and three-member divisions across County Durham.

The electoral review started in 2008 but its completion was delayed after new rules meant the Commission had to re-consider future electorate estimates for County Durham.Following the council’s annual canvass of electors, which was completed in December 2010, the Commission is now ready to publish new draft recommendations which will determine the electoral divisions for council elections in May 2013 and onwards.

In December 2007, the previous Government approved a bid from Durham County Council for a unitary authority to take over the responsibility for all local government services in those areas in County Durham formerly provided by the County Council and the six district councils. The Electoral Commission subsequently directed the Boundary Committee for England (predecessor of the LGCBE) to conduct an electoral review to determine the pattern of electoral divisions for the new council.

The full recommendations and maps are available on the Commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk. They will also be available to view at local council buildings and libraries.

Max Caller, Chair of the LGBCE, said: “Today we are publishing proposals for a new pattern of electoral divisions across County Durham and we’re keen to hear what local people think of the recommendations.Over the next 10 weeks, we are asking local people to tell us if they agree with the proposals or if not, how they can be improved.“

Having fair electoral boundaries for your council is important. Our review aims to deliver electoral equality for Durham’s voters. This means that each councillor should represent a similar number of people so that everyone’s vote in local authority elections is worth roughly the same regardless of where you live.

“We will consider all the submissions we receive whoever they are from and whether your evidence applies to the whole of County Durham or just a part of it.

“This is the second time we have produced draft recommendations. Since we first published recommendations, legislation meant that we had to take another look at our estimates for Durham’s future electorate. On the basis of the new electorate projections from December 2010, we’ve altered our initial proposals so that we can guarantee electoral equality for County Durham’s voters.

“There are three key factors local people should consider when making recommendations.They are the rules, set out in law, which the Commission has to abide by when making our recommendations.Firstly, proposals must ensure electoral equality for voters with each councillor representing around the same number of electors.Second, the new divisions should – as far as possible – reflect the natural communities of County Durham.And finally, the proposals should help the council deliver effective and convenient local government.”

The Commission wants to hear as much evidence as possible in order to develop final recommendations for Durham County Council. If you would like to make a submission to the Commission, please write or email us by 1 August 2011:

The Review Officer (Durham)
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
Layden House
76-86 Turnmill Street
London EC1M 5LG
Or email: http://mailto:reviews@lgbce.org.uk

For further information contact:
Press Office: 020 7664 8530
http://mailto:marcus.bowell@lgbce.org.uk

ends/

Notes to editors:

1.  The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is responsible for reviewing local authority electoral arrangements, defining boundaries for local elections and the number of councillors to be elected, as well as conducting reviews of local government external boundaries and structures. In April 2010, the Commission took over the responsibilities of the Boundary Committee which had previously conducted the electoral review of County Durham.It has fallen to the LGBCE to complete the review.

2.  The LGBCE is conducting the review following a direction from the Electoral Commission in 2008.Following the previous government’s decision to accept Durham’s bid for unitary status (so that over the responsibility for all local government services in those areas in County Durham formerly provided by the County Council and the six district councils transfers to a single authority), the LGBCE has been tasked establishing electoral arrangements for the new council.

3. The types of questions the Commission is asking residents at this stage are:

  • Do the proposed electoral divisions reflect local communities?
  • How do you think the proposals can be improved whilst maintaining electoral equality?
  • Are the names of the proposed electoral divisions right?

4.  Residents have from 24 May 2011 until 1 August 2011 to have their say about where electoral division boundaries for County Durham should be drawn.The LGBCE will consider all submissions and aims to publish its final recommendations in September 2011.Once the Commission agrees its final recommendations it will lay a draft order in both Houses of Parliament.Parliament will then have 40 days in which to consider the recommendations.If both Houses are satisfied with the recommendations, the draft order will be ‘made’ and the new divisions will come into effect at the local elections in May 2013.