The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has published its final recommendations for new electoral arrangements for Kent County Council.
Today’s publication follows two phases of public consultation on its draft proposals last year and draws new boundaries for each county electoral division across Kent.
The Commission’s final recommendations propose that Kent should be represented by 81 county councillors in the future: three fewer than the current arrangement. The recommendations also propose that those councillors should represent 63 single-member electoral divisions and nine two-member electoral divisions across the county.
Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said, “We are extremely grateful to people across Kent who took the time and effort to send us their views. The Commission considered every piece of evidence it received before finalising these recommendations.
“Across the county, we have sought to balance the views expressed to us by local people with the criteria we must apply when we are deciding on new electoral arrangements. As such, we believe these recommendations deliver electoral equality for voters as well as reflecting the identities of communities in Kent.”
In response to representations made to it on the draft recommendations, the Commission has made changes to the draft proposals it originally put forward for consultation. For example, in Sevenoaks, the Commission carried out an extra phase of consultation because it proposed significant changes to the original recommendations. The new pattern of divisions provides a better reflection of local community ties and means Swanley Village is included in the Sevenoaks North & Darent Valley division, the whole of the Sevenoaks Town Council area is included in the same electoral division and Westerham parish forms part of the Sevenoaks West division.
In Ashford, the Commission has altered its draft recommendations so that the parish of Smarden is included in the Ashford Rural West division rather than Tenterden as previously proposed.
The Commission has also changed the pattern of electoral divisions for Gravesham so that the borough is divided into three electoral divisions: two divisions for the urban areas of Gravesend and Northfleet and a third division for the rural parts of the borough. The changes reflect feedback to the Commission during public consultation.
In Shepway district, local feedback to consultation suggested that the parishes of Burmarsh, Newchurch and St Mary in the Marsh should be part of the Romney Marsh division rather than the Hythe West electoral division.
In Swale, the Commission had previously proposed that Faversham should be divided between electoral divisions. Having considered local views, the Commission has altered the proposals so that the whole of Faversham Town should form its own electoral division.
Elsewhere in the county, the Commission has made minor changes to its draft recommendations in response to local feedback. For example, Cliffsend parish in Thanet district will be part of the Ramsgate electoral division and, in Tonbridge & Malling, the Commission now proposes that the whole of the parish of Ditton should be part of the Malling North East division rather than divided between two electoral divisions.
The Commission’s remaining draft recommendations are confirmed as final.
Full details of the final recommendations are available on the Commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk.
The proposed new arrangements must now be implemented by Parliament. A draft order – the legal document which brings into force the recommendations – will be laid in Parliament in the coming months. The draft Order provides for the new electoral arrangements to come into force at the county council elections in 2017.
For further information contact the Commission’s press office on: 0330 500 1250 / 1525 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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