How many councillors should represent Northamptonshire County Council? that's the question local people are being asked by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) in a six-week consultation that starts today (25 October 2011).
Local residents are being invited to give their views on what their council will look like in the future as the Commission begins the first part of an electoral review of Northamptonshire County Council.
The review will consider changes to the number of councillors on the county council as well as the number and boundaries of the council's electoral divisions.
Max Caller, Chair of the Commission, said: "Having fair electoral boundaries is important for local democracy."
"The purpose of a review is to try to ensure that each county councillor represents around the same number of people and that every elector's vote is worth the same. That's not the case at the moment in Northamptonshire. Danesholme electoral division in Corby, for example, has 53% more voters per county councillor than the average for the county. In Thorplands division in Northampton, each county councillor represents 20% fewer people than the average. Overall this means that local people's votes, at county council elections, are worth different amounts depending on where they live in the county. Our review aims to correct that situation.
As part of the review, we will also be looking to take into account local community interests and identities when we redraw the county's divisions. This is your chance to shape your council for the future.
The first stage of the review is a consideration of the size of the council, namely the number of county councillors who represent Northamptonshire. Northamptonshire County Council has proposed a significant reduction in the number of county councillors from 73 at present to between 56 and 59 county councillors for the future. The Commission has considered the County Council's reasons for proposing the reduction and is minded to propose 57 county councillors for Northamptonshire.
Added Max Caller, "In cases where a significant change to the size of the council is being proposed, the Commission consults local people and organisations. At the moment, the Commission is considering recommending a council size of 57 for Northamptonshire. But before we take a more definite view, we want to hear the opinions of local people about whether such a council size will help the County Council deliver effective local government. We'd like to know if local people agree with the idea of having 57 county councillors. If not, we'd equally like to know why not and what you believe would be a better council size for Northamptonshire.
The current phase of consultation closes on 5 December 2011. Once it has considered the evidence provided by local people and organisations, the Commission will then publish its proposal on the total number of councillors and gather information from local people and organisations on new electoral division boundaries across Northamptonshire.
The Commission aims to publish its draft recommendations for a new pattern of electoral divisions for Northamptonshire in June 2012 when it will consult local people again for 12 weeks. Final recommendations are due to be published in October 2012 and the new electoral arrangements would come into effect for the county council elections in 2013.
Further information on electoral reviews and guidance on what sort of information the Commission is looking for, log on to our website at www.lgbce.org.uk
To have your say, please write to:The Review Officer (Northamptonshire) Local Government Boundary Commission for England Layden House 76-86 Turnmill Street London EC1M 5LG Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. You can read more about Northamptonshire County Council's reasons for proposing a reduction in council size on our website at: www.lgbce/all-reviews/east-midlands/northamptonshire-cc-fer
5. Further guidance on responding to our consultations is available on the website www.lgbce.org.uk .
6. The electoral review off Northamptonshire County Council is a separate undertaking from the current review of parliamentary constituency boundaries which is being carried out by a separate body (Boundary Commission for England) under different rules and legislation.