The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people how many councillors they think should represent Darlington Borough Council in the future.
The six-week public consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will also consider changes to the number, names and boundaries of the council's wards.
The Commission has considered evidence submitted to it by the council and is now consulting residents on a proposal that would see the authority represented by 50 councillors in future, three fewer than the current arrangements.
The Commission is asking local people whether they think 50 is the right number of councillors for Darlington.
Max Caller, Chair of the Commission, said: "This is your chance to shape your council for the future.
"We are asking people across the borough whether they agree that 50 councillors is the right number to represent Darlington in the future.
"We want to know if you think 50 is the right number of councillors to be able to take decisions effectively and whether it's the right number to represent the interests of all of Darlington's communities.
"If you don''t agree that Darlington should be represented by 50 councillors, we want you to tell us your alternative and why you think there should be more, or fewer, members of the council in the future.
"Once we have taken a view on the number of councillors, we will re-draw ward boundaries to accommodate those elected members and we will ask local people to have their say during that process as well."
Further information about the review is available at www.lgbce.org.uk.
Residents can have their say directly at consultation.lgbce.org.uk.
Follow the Commission on Twitter @LGBCE.
Write to:The Review Officer (Darlington) Local Government Boundary Commission for England Layden House 76-86 Turnmill Street London EC1M 5LG
The current phase of consultation closes on 6 August 2013. Once it has considered the evidence provided by local people and organisations, the Commission will publish its proposal on the total number of councillors in September 2013 and then begin to gather information to help draw up new ward boundaries.
The Commission aims to publish its draft recommendations for a new pattern of wards for Darlington in March 2014 when it will consult local people again. Final recommendations are due to be published in September 2014 and the new electoral arrangements would come into effect for the council elections in 2015.
For further information contact the Commission's press office on: 0207 664 8530/8534 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
1. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is responsible for reviewing local authority electoral arrangements e.g. defining boundaries for local elections and the number of councillors to be elected. The Commission also carries out reviews of the external boundaries of local authorities and their structure.
2. The Commission is carrying out an electoral review of Darlington Borough Council to deliver electoral equality for local voters. The borough currently has relatively high levels of electoral inequality where some councillors represent significantly more, or fewer voters, than other members of the council. For example, Faverdale ward has 46% more voters in it than the average for the borough. The situation means that the value of your vote, in borough council elections, varies depending on where you live in Darlington.
3. In this phase of consultation, the Commission is asking local people to consider whether 50 councillors is the right number for Darlington and, if not, how many would better promote effective and convenient local government. In coming to a conclusion on council size, the Commission is also asking people to consider the following types of questions: