The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people for their help to draw up a new pattern of council wards for Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.
The Commission has also announced that it is minded to recommend that the council should have 48 councillors in future: the same as the current arrangements.
The Commission now needs information from people and groups across Welwyn Hatfield to help it to produce a new pattern of wards to accommodate 48 councillors.
In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission aims to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Welwyn Hatfield.
Max Caller, Chair of the Commission, said: “The starting point of an electoral review is for the Commission to take a view on the number of councillors that should represent the authority in future. On the evidence presented to the Commission, we are minded to recommend that Welwyn Hatfield should continue to have 48 councillors.
“We are now asking local people and organisations to help us draw up new wards for Welwyn Hatfield. As we develop the recommendations, we will take into account local community identities as well as ensuring electoral equality for voters.
“Your views will make a difference.
“We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during this phase of the review whoever it is from and whether it applies to the whole of Welwyn Hatfield or just a small part of the borough.
“We will publish all the submissions on our website 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 August.”
Local people have until 6 July 2015 to submit their views. Further information on the review and interactive maps of the existing wards can be found at www.consultation.lgbce.org.uk and www.lgbce.org.uk.
Notes to editors:
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 aim of an electoral review is to provide for ‘electoral equality’; that means each councillor representing approximately the same number of electors. The Commission must also have regard to community identity and interests and providing effective and convenient local government.
3. The types of questions the Commission is asking residents at this stage are:
· Do you have suggestions about where your ward boundaries should be?
· Which areas do you identify as your local community?
· Where do people in your area go to access local facilities such as shops and leisure activities?
4. Residents have from 12 May 2015 to 6 July 2015 to have their say about where ward boundaries for Welwyn Hatfield’s 48 councillors should be drawn. The Commission will then publish its draft recommendations in August 2015 and open a further phase of consultation with local people. New wards are scheduled to come into effect at the 2016 local elections.
5. The Commission’s decision on council size means it is ‘minded’ to recommend 48 councillors for Welwyn Hatfield but is not legally bound by that number in its final recommendations and depending on the evidence submitted to it during consultation.
6. For councils, like Welwyn Hatfield, that hold elections in three years out of every four, the Commission has a responsibility, set out in legislation, to devise a pattern of three-member wards across the whole authority. Such a ward pattern means that every elector would have the same opportunity to vote in local elections each time they are held. However, the Commission is able to move away from a uniform pattern of three-member wards – on a ward by ward basis - if it believes an alternative arrangement would better meet its other statutory criteria: to deliver electoral equality for voters, to reflect the interests and identities of local communities and to promote effective and convenient local government.
7. Members of the public can have their say on the new ward arrangements by writing to:The Review Officer (Welwyn Hatfield) Local Government Boundary Commission for England 14th floor, Millbank Tower Millbank London SW1P 4QP
Follow the Commission on Twitter: @LGBCE
Go directly to the Commission’s consultation portal at: www.consultation.lgbce.org.uk
Link to dedicated web page for the Welwyn Hatfield electoral review at:For further information contact the Commission’s press office on: 0330 500 1525 / 1250 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org