Monday, 18 August 2008

What a unitary carry on!

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has condemned the announcement from the Boundary Committee for England that it will “not be able to complete the work” necessary to create new seats for elections to the new unitary council by May or June 2009 and that the elections will have to proceed on the basis of 82 Councillors with the same electoral divisions as the current County Council.

The Boundary Committee has however stated that it is minded to accept the number of 123 councillors for the new unitary authority and will begin a 12-week consultation in November. The Electoral Commission could decide to bring their proposals into effect before the end of the normal four year cycle, which would mean further elections, or alternatively the whole of Cornwall will have to make do with just 82 councillors for the next four years.

It is simply unacceptable for the Boundary Committee for England to say that it cannot find the time to carry out the electoral review and yet does not intend to start the consultation on the numbers until November. They just need to get on with the review and stop prevaricating!

The proposals for the new council include twenty area networks which respect the boundaries of the proposed electoral divisions. If elections are held on the County Council’s old divisions, it will completely undermine the local arrangements for the new council.

What is more, it is ridiculous to expect local people to take part in a consultation on a 123 member council, only for them to then have to vote for new councillors on different boundaries.

Mebyon Kernow has never been in favour of the Liberal Democrat’s unitary council experiment. The arrangements are now descending into farce and we would hope that central government will admit that it has got it wrong and pull the plug on the whole debacle.

If they unwilling to do this, central government needs to ensure that the electoral review is speeded up and, if necessary, the existence of Cornwall County Council and the district councils is extended for three-four months until the democratic arrangements are in place for the new council.

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