The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is asking people across Hartlepool to comment on its draft proposals for new electoral arrangements for Hartlepool Borough Council.
A 12-week public consultation on the recommendations begins today and will end on 20 June 2011. The consultation is open to anyone in Hartlepool who wants to have their say on new wards, ward boundaries and ward names across the borough.
The Commission’s draft recommendations propose that Hartlepool Borough Council should have 33 councillors – fourteen fewer than at present. The proposals would mean those councillors would represent 11 wards with a uniform pattern of three-member wards across Hartlepool.
If a local authority elects by thirds (namely: holds elections in three out of every four years as in Hartlepool), the Commission is obliged, by law, to try and devise a pattern of three-member wards across the whole borough. However, the LGBCE does not have to retain that pattern of wards if evidence emerges during consultation of alternative proposals that would better meet the Commission’s duties to provide electoral equality, reflect local communities and encourage effective and convenient local government.
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 wards across Hartlepool and we’re keen to hear what local people think of the recommendations. Over the next 12 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 Hartlepool’s voters. This means that each councillor represents 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 borough or just a part of it.
“The Commission has based these proposals on the views expressed to us by local people and organisations and we have an open mind about further suggestions to change and improve them. After all, local people know Hartlepool best.
“There are three key factors you should consider when making submissions to us during the consultation. 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 wards should – as far as possible – reflect the natural communities of Hartlepool. 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 Hartlepool Borough Council. If you would like to make a submission to the Commission, please write or email us by 20 June 2011:
The Review Officer (Hartlepool)
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
76-86 Turnmill Street
London EC1M 5LG
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information contact:
Press Office: 020 7664 8530
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.
2. The LGBCE is conducting the electoral review of Hartlepool because the borough currently has significant electoral imbalances. Seaton ward, for example, has 19% more electors per councillor than the average in Hartlepool, whereas Dyke House ward has 22% fewer. This means that the value of your vote varies to a large extent depending on where you live in Hartlepool.
3. The types of questions the Commission is asking residents at this stage are:
• Do the proposed wards reflect local communities?
• How do you think the proposals can be improved whilst maintaining electoral equality?
• Are the names of the proposed wards right?
4. Residents have from 29 March 2011 until 20 June 2011 to have their say about where ward boundaries for Hartlepool 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 wards will come into effect at the local elections in May 2012.