East Devon District Council – Electoral Review….
Over time electoral wards change, development and migration drive population change. Some areas grow, others decline, which means an imbalance between number of electors represented by each Councillor.
When imbalances become significant, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, an independent body established by Parliament in 2010, carries out an electoral review. This aims to effectively ‘reset the clock’ so that each Ward Member represents a similar and appropriate number of electors.
What is an electoral review?
An electoral review looks at the electoral arrangements for the whole authority. It considers the council size and hence number of councillors to be elected, and the names and boundaries of electoral wards
Why is East Devon being reviewed now?
East Devon District Council population distribution has changed so that it meets the Commission’s criteria for review. Currently 28% of electoral wards vary by greater than +/- 10% from the average electorate number.
Trinity Ward, where I represent us, includes parishes of Uplyme, Combpyne-Rousdon and Axmouth. Our electorate has grown to 1,988, now 14% greater than the average and the largest electorate per Councillor in East Devon, with the exception of the ‘two-member’ ward of Broadclyst near Exeter. Here, primarily due to the development of Cranbrook, electorate per Councillor is a full 36% above the average.
The Electoral Review has two parts;
How big should EDDC be?
Before any boundaries are redrawn, the Commission comes to a view on the total number of Councillors needed. East Devon DC currently has 59 Councillors, the initial view of the Commissioners, based in part of representation from the Council, in that this should increase by one to 60.
Where should the new ward boundaries be?
The Electoral Commission is carrying out two phases of public consultation where we are all invited to present our views on potential new ward boundaries.
The first phase started on 27th September and runs until 5th December 2016. The commission will consider responses to this phase to draw up draft recommendations for new ward boundaries across East Devon. This will be followed by a second phase of consultation, between 7th February and 3rd April 2017, when we will be invited to comment on proposals and propose alternatives.
How will the Commission decide where to place boundaries?
Parliament laid down Statutory criteria, based on which boundaries must be set by the Commission.
(i) Delivering ‘electoral equality’ for local voters – this means ensuring that each Councillor represents roughly the same number of voters.
(ii) ‘Interests and identities’ of local communities – this means, as far as possible avoiding splitting local ties and using easily identifiable boundaries. As ‘Trinity Ward’ has a high number of electors for the election of its Councillor, there may be pressure to reduce the area – where might this happen? My personal view is that pressure could come on ‘outlying areas’ Raymonds Hill to the north or Axmouth to the west perhaps? This would mean that the EDDC ward Boundaries may not then coincide with Parish boundaries, an arrangement I have found particularly helpful in looking to support those I represent effectively.
(iii) To deliver ‘effective and convenient’ local government – by ensuring that we can be represented effectively by our elected representatives, and that both the council size and ward boundaries allow EDDC to conduct its business effectively.
It is important that any representation we submit to the commission is supported by evidence and takes into account these statutory criteria.
How to have your say…
Full details on all stories and the latest news on my website www.trinitymatters.co.uk
Cllr Ian Thomas – Trinity Ward, East Devon District Council
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