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Commission launches major consultation

18th November 2010

Commission launches major consultation

18th November 2010

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is today launching a major consultation of English local authorities. Its two consultation papers set out proposals for how the Commission could work with councils on major issues such as council mergers, council size and boundary anomalies that can hinder the delivery of effective services.

The local government community is being asked to comment on the plans and consider how they could benefit from being part of the Commission’s programme.

The two consultation papers launched today are:

On the right lines? A consultation on policy and procedures for Principal Area Boundary Reviews (PABRs(PDF)) – which sets out new procedures for local authority boundary changes from correcting minor anomalies to whole council mergers.The consultation proposes new procedures which are proportionate to the scale of boundary changes proposed.The paper also covers the LGBCE’s approach to council mergers and how the Commission expects proposals to be locally driven and based on sound business cases.
Striking the right balance. A consultation on policy and procedures for electoral reviews (PDF) – which proposes to introduce a fast track approach to some reviews as well as telling councils what they can expect from the Commission if they wish to change the number of councillors.

 

 

 

 

  

Max Caller, Chair of the LGBCE, said, “The Commission has unique powers to help councils deliver effective local government.The consultation papers we are publishing today set out our thoughts on how we could use those powers to help councils face the challenges ahead.

“There are two main themes running through the consultations.First, we are aiming to ensure that the procedures we use for our reviews are fair, effective and proportionate to the scale of the issues raised by councils. That’s why, for both electoral reviews and PABRs, we are proposing fast track reviews in some circumstances that will mean they could be completed within six months.

“Second, we are spelling out how we can help councils redraw their external boundaries not just to reflect the changing pattern of communities but in ways that can lead to greater service efficiency for residents.

“I urge anyone involved in local government in England to take a look at these papers. Not only do we want to hear your views on our plans, but there are also some significant opportunities for councils to consider how the Commission can help them deliver effective and convenient local government.

“The papers cover a range of issues such as correcting minor boundary anomalies which affect just a few people to full scale mergers and changes in the number of councillors serving on the council. We are setting out exactly how we can help local authorities achieve their ambitions and what they can expect from us during a review process.

“From my conversations with councils across England, it’s clear to me that there’s an appetite amongst them to look at radical solutions to the challenge of delivering excellent services at a time of dwindling resources and rising public expectations.These papers will tell them if, and how, we can assist.

“Delivering electoral equality for voters will always be our priority.In achieving fairness for local elections, however, we can help councils reach their strategic aims too. The LGCBE is not just a regulator.”

Later this month, Mr Caller will write to all Leaders and Chief Executives of councils in England who are not currently part of the LGBCE review programme to explain the Commission’s plans, ask them for feedback and outline how they can become part of the review programme.

The consultation papers can be found on the LGBCE website at www.lgbce.org.uk/guidance-policy-and-publications/corporate-publications .The consultation ends on 31 December 2010.

The Commission will use the results of the consultation to design its new technical guidance which will determine its procedures for all reviews from April 2011.

Ends./

Notes to Editors:

1. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is an independent body set up by Parliament in April 2010. It is independent of Government and political parties, and is directly accountable to Parliament through a committee chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons.

It is responsible for conducting three main types of review:

  • Electoral reviews – reviews of the internal electoral arrangements (the number of councillors and the names, number and boundaries of wards) of local authorities;
  • Principal area boundary reviews – reviewing and making recommendations to the Secretary of State on changes to the external boundaries of borough, city, district and county councils;
  • Structural reviews – at his request, advising the Secretary of State on any proposals he receives for moves to unitary local government.