The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking people across Northamptonshire to comment on its draft proposals for new electoral arrangements for Northamptonshire County Council.
An eight-week public consultation on the recommendations begins today and will end on 13 August 2012. The consultation is open to anyone in Northamptonshire who wants to have their say on new electoral divisions, division boundaries and division names across the county.
The Commission's draft recommendations propose that Northamptonshire County Council should have 57 county councillors in the future - 16 fewer than under the current arrangements. The proposals would mean those councillors would represent 57 single-member electoral divisions across Northamptonshire.
The full recommendations and detailed maps are available on the Commission's website at www.lgbce.org.uk/all-reviews/east-midlands/northamptonshire/northamptonshire-cc-fer. Hard copies of the Commission's report and maps will also be available to view at council buildings and libraries.
Max Caller, Chair of the Commission, said: "We are publishing proposals for a new pattern of electoral divisions across Northamptonshire and we're keen to hear what local people think of the recommendations.
"Over the next eight weeks, we are asking local people to tell us if they agree with the proposals or if not, how they can be improved.
"Our review aims to deliver electoral equality for Northamptonshire's voters. This means that each county councillor represents a similar number of people so that everyone's vote in county council elections is worth roughly the same regardless of where you live.
"We also want to ensure that our proposals reflect the interests and identities of local communities across the county and that the pattern of divisions can help the county council deliver effective local government to local people.
"We will consider all the submissions we receive whoever they are from and whether your evidence applies to the whole county or just a part of it.
"In many parts of Northamptonshire, our recommendations are based on proposals put to us by the County Council. In other parts of the county we have devised our own pattern of divisions or used proposals put to us by local people and groups. We have an open mind about further suggestions from local people to change and improve these recommendations.
The Commission wants to hear as much evidence as possible in order to develop final recommendations for Northamptonshire County Council. If you would like to make a submission to the Commission, please write or email us by 13 August 2012:
Notes to editors:
1. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) 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 Commission is carrying out the review of Northamptonshire because the county currently has relatively high levels of electoral inequality. For example, 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.
3. The types of questions the Commission is asking residents at this stage are:
4. Residents have from 19 June until 13 August 2012 to have their say about where division boundaries for Northamptonshire should be drawn. The Commission will consider all submissions and aims to publish its final recommendations in October 2012. Once the Commission agrees its final recommendations it will lay a draft order in both Houses of Parliament. Parliament will then have 40 days in which to consider the recommendations. If both Houses are satisfied with the recommendations, the draft order will be 'made' and the new electoral divisions will come into effect at the county council elections in 2013.