The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) will begin the second part of its consultation on electoral arrangements for Cumbria County Council on 29 March 2011.
Following the completion of its initial consultation late last year, the Commission is proposing that the council should have 84 county councillors – the same as at present. The LGBCE now needs information from people and groups across Cumbria to help it to map out a new pattern of electoral divisions for the county.
The Commission was due to announce its recommendation on the number of county councillors for Cumbria in late 2010 but delayed its decision as it sought further information from the council. Having considered the council’s plans for devolving decision making to local areas and its ambitions in relation to the representational role of county councillors in the future, the Commission has decided to retain the current number of county councillors.
Max Caller, Chair of the LGBCE, said “It is not uncommon for the Commission to seek further information from local authorities before coming to a decision on an important issue like council size. That’s why we have had further meetings to find out more about the role county councillors are likely to play in the future and their potential workload. The County Council’s plan to devolve decision making to local committees, for example, was one of the key reasons why we have concluded that 84 councillors is the right number for Cumbria
“We are now asking for information and evidence from people across Cumbria that will help us understand where the new electoral division boundaries should be drawn. We will be looking for evidence of strong community ties and areas that should be together in the same divisions. We’ll also be looking at the natural boundaries between communities.
“First and foremost, we want to ensure that the pattern of divisions means that everyone’s vote in Cumbria is of roughly equal value regardless of where they live in the county. Our other major consideration is to ensure that divisions genuinely reflect local communities.
“Your views will make a difference. After all, local people know Cumbria best. We encourage anyone who is interested in what the new divisions 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 county or just a small part of it.
“We will also publish all 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 September 2011.”
This stage of consultation will last until 20 June 2011. 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 at the moment in Cumbria.Dalston and Cummersdale division in Carlisle, for example, has 33% more electors than the average for the county while Moss Bay division in Allerdale has 27% fewer. That represents a major imbalance in the value of people’s votes across the county.
3. The types of questions the Commission is asking residents at this stage are:
4.Residents have from 29 March to 20 June 2011 to have their say about where division boundaries for Cumbria’s 84 county councillors should be drawn.The LGBCE will then publish its draft recommendations in September 2011 and open a further phase of consultation.New divisions are scheduled to come into effect at the 2013 county council elections.
5.The LGBCE’s decision on council size means it is ‘minded’ to recommend 84 county councillors for Cumbria but is not legally bound by that number in its final recommendations.
6.Members of the public can have their say on the new warding arrangements by writing to:The Review Officer (Cumbria) Layden House 76-86 Turnmill Street London EC1M 5LG
Or by emailing:firstname.lastname@example.org
All submissions received by the LGBCE can be viewed on the Commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk