The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) begins the second part of its consultation on electoral arrangements for Swindon Borough Council today.
Following the completion of its initial consultation earlier this month, the Commission is proposing that the council should have 57 councillors.The LGBCE now needs information from people and groups across Swindon to help it to map out a new pattern of wards for the borough.
Max Caller, Chair of the LGBCE, said: “We are asking for information and evidence from people across Swindon that will help us understand where the new ward boundaries should be drawn. We will be looking for evidence of strong community ties and areas that should be together in the same wards. We’ll also be looking at the natural boundaries between communities.
“First and foremost, we want to ensure that the pattern of wards means that everyone’s vote in Swindon is of roughly equal value regardless of where they live. Our other major consideration is to ensure that wards genuinely reflect local communities.
“Your views will make a difference. After all, local people know Swindon best. We encourage anyone who is interested in what the new wards should look like to submit evidence-based proposals to the Commission.
“We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during the consultation, whoever it is from and whether it applies to the whole borough or just a small part of it.
“We will also publish all the submissions so that local people can see all the various proposals we receive. Residents will then have a further chance to have their say after we publish our draft recommendations in the Spring of 2011.”
This stage of consultation will last until 20 December. Further information on electoral reviews and guidance on what sort of information the Commission is looking for is available on the LGBCE website at www.lgbce.org.uk.
1. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England 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 purpose of a review is to try to ensure that each councillor represents approximately the same number of people and that every elector’s vote is worth the same. That is not the case in Swindon at the current time. Abbey Meads ward, for example, has 65% more electors per councillor than the average in Swindon, whereas Penhill ward has 15% fewer.
3. The types of questions the Commission is asking residents at this stage are:
4. Residents have from 28 September to 20 December to have their say about where ward boundaries for Swindon’s 57 councillors should be drawn. The LGBCE will then publish its draft recommendations in March 2011 and open a further phase of consultation. New wards are scheduled to come into effect at the 2012 local elections.
5. The LGBCE will aim to produce a pattern of 19 wards each containing three councillors. However, the Commission is not constrained by that pattern if it would compromise its statutory obligations to provide electoral equality or if it would break up strong local communities.
6. The LGBCE’s decision on council size means it is ‘minded’ to recommend 57 councillors for Swindon but is not legally bound by that number in its final recommendations.
7. Members of the public can have their say on the new warding arrangements by writing to:The Review Officer (Swindon) Layden House 76-86 Turnmill Street London EC1M 5LG
Or by emailing: email@example.com
All submissions received by the LGBCE can be viewed on the Commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk