Monday, 23 November 2015

Cornwall Council to suffer “rushed” boundary review

Three representatives of the “Local Government Boundary Commission for England” (sic) were in Cornwall today to meet with the leaders of the various political groups on the unitary authority.

We all assumed this was to discuss the timetabling of the “boundary review” which Cornwall Council and central government had agreed would commence soon after the 2017 elections, well in advance of 2021 elections when the changes would be implemented. How wrong we were!

The representatives of the Commission told us that we had to commence a review immediately, and that the 2017 council elections would then be contested on whatever new boundaries were agreed.

All members were aghast at the meeting and we collectively pointed that such reviews should be done properly and not pushed through in a rush. But we were told – in no uncertain terms – that what we thought did not matter in the slightest.

If the Commission keeps to its own timetable (unlikely), it will not publish its final recommendations until January 2017 – just weeks before the actual elections.

The process will have two main elements.

First, there has to be agreement about the size of the unitary authority (ie. number of councillors). A reduction in councillor numbers is now inevitable, and we were informed that the number of elected members would need to be between 28 and 107! No – I do not know where their figures have come from.

And second, the actual divisions would need to be agreed with electorates that are broadly similar.

We were presented with a timetable (for the Commission itself) as follows:

19th April 2016 – Agreement of council size.
24th April 2016 – Consultation on “warding patterns.”
16th August 2016 – Meeting about draft recommendations.
6th September 2016 – Consultation on draft recommendations.
10th January 2017 – Final recommendations published.
Mid-late January 2017 – Order laid.

Readers of my blog might be interested to know that the so-called “devolution deal” between Cornwall Council and central government included the following:

“Cornwall Council will take forward a council boundary review. The boundary review is expected to reduce the number of local councillors and will be taken forward by the Boundary Commission. This review will commence in 2017.”

When this was presented to Cornwall Council in July this year, councillors stated that the presumption that the number of elected members should be reduced was not appropriate. The “Deal” was agreed on the understanding, amongst other things, that this statement be removed but central government apparently did not have time to do this.

And now the agreement that the review should commence in 2017 has shown that pledge to worthless.

More information to follow when it becomes available.

1 comment:

MawKernewek said...

I suggest an experiment. What happens if the review comes up with a number that is not in the range of the expected results?