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How Reviews Work

Electoral reviews


An electoral review is an examination of a council’s electoral arrangements. This means:

  • the total number of councillors elected to the local authority;
  • the number and boundaries of wards or divisions for the purposes of the election of councillors;
  • the number of councillors for any ward or division of a local authority; and
  • the name of any ward or division.

The Commission conducts an electoral review of a council for two reasons:

  1. At the request of the local autho­­rity; or
  2. If the local authority meets the Commission’s intervention criteria:
    a) If one ward has an electorate of +/-30% from the average electorate for the authority
    b) If 30% of all wards have an electorate of +/-10% from the average electorate for the authority.

Below is a diagram of the six steps every electoral review must complete.

This is the start of the electoral review process.

We gather initial information from the local authority being reviewed, including electoral forecasts and other electoral data.

We meet with all councillors, officers, group leaders and, where applicable, parish and town councils.

At this stage of the review, we will decide how many councillors should be elected to the local authority in the future. We will base this decision on the evidence we receive from the local authority itself and any other respondents who have made a representation. We will take a view on the council size for a local authority by considering four factors:

  • The governance arrangements of the council;
  • The council’s scrutiny functions;
  • The representational role of councillors;
  • Future trends and plans for the council.

In some cases, at the Commission’s discretion, we may ask the public for their views on councillor numbers.

Guidance for local authorities on councillor numbers

At this stage of the review, we have not proposed new ward or division boundaries. This stage is where we ask the public for their views on:

  1. The number of wards or divisions;
  2. The names of wards or divisions;
  3. Where the boundaries between wards or divisions should lie;
  4. The number of councillors for each ward or division.

The public’s comments will then shape our draft recommendations for new electoral arrangements.

For guidance on how to make a submission (comments and opinions) please see our:

You can make a submission to an electoral review through our consultation area or by emailing us at [email protected].

Based on the information we receive from the warding or division arrangements consultation, we then produce draft recommendations on future electoral arrangements.

We then open a new stage of consultation to see what members of the public think of our plans for their area.

We will consider all submissions on our draft recommendation when producing our final recommendations for the local authority.


Further limited draft recommendations
If we receive strong evidence that goes against parts of our draft recommendations, we may alter our recommendations to reflect this.

If these alterations are significant and we lack sufficient evidence of local opinion on these alterations, we will then reopen consultation on our revised draft recommendations.

This additional consultation is often limited to a specific geographical area of the local authority.

This is an additional and discretionary stage of consultation.

Based on the information we receive from the draft recommendations consultation, we then produce our final recommendations for the local authority’s future electoral arrangements.

These recommendations will then be put before Parliament to be made law.

The final recommendations are then put before Parliament in the form of a draft order.

The draft order, if made, gives effect to the final recommendations and is laid before Parliament for a period of 40 sitting days.

Parliament can either accept or reject our recommendations.

In addition to electoral reviews, other types of reviews feature in the Commission's work.

These other types of reviews include:

  • Community Governance Reviews;
  • Principal Area Boundary Reviews; and
  • Structural Reviews.


Community Governance Reviews are not conducted by the Commission itself.

They are conducted by the relevant principal council (district or unitary), but their outcomes affect the work of the Commission.

Community Governance Reviews decide whether to create a new parish or town council, whether to alter the external boundaries of an existing parish or town council and/or their internal ward boundaries, and whether to group a number of parishes together in a grouped parish council.

If you are seeking information about specific Community Governance Reviews, please contact the relevant principal council.


Principal Area Boundary Reviews and Structural Reviews are infrequently conducted by the Commission.

Principal Area Boundary Reviews relate to the boundaries between local authorities.

Structural Reviews establish whether one or more single, all-purpose councils, known as unitary authorities, should be established in an area instead of the existing two-tier system.



For more information about these three types of review, their ramifications on the work of the Commission, and for other types of review, click 'Other Types of Review'.

For a glossary of the vocabulary used by the Commission in its work, please click 'Glossary'.

For further, advanced guidance on the technicalities of all the reviews mentioned on this page, please click 'Technical Guidance'.