The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has announced the start of an “information gathering stage” to decide new electoral arrangements for Northamptonshire County Council. These new arrangements are likely to see the number of council seats shrink from 73 to 57. As part of its information gathering exercise, the Commission says it is is actively seeking the views of Northamptonshire electors.
The Commission says it is reviewing Northamptonshire in order to improve its levels of electoral representation, which have become imbalanced in recent years. Currently, the number of electors represented by the councillors in 41% of Northamptonshire's 73 divisions varies by more than 10% from the average for the county as a whole. The Commission is looking to ensure every councillor in each division of the county represents roughly the same number of electors. However, review officer William Morrison says the identities and interests of local communities in the area will also be taken into account as well as the need for convenient and effective local government and electoral equality.
“We particularly need to develop our understanding on those areas communities identify with,” says Mr Morrison. “We are interested in all local information that enhances this understanding.” Anyone making a submission to the Commission, he says, should think about the areas they identify as being a part of their local community. For example, where do people go to access local facilities such as shops and leisure activities?
“Subsequent to preliminary discussions with Northamptonshire County Council and a public consultation,” adds Mr Morrison, “the Commission is minded to recommend a council size of 57 councillors. Proposals for division arrangements should therefore be based on this council size. This stage of the review will run from January 24 to April 2, 2012.”
After the closing date, the Commission will formulate draft recommendations, which it expects to publish in June 2012. A nine-week period of public consultation will follow, during which time it would welcome the views of anyone with an interest in what is being proposed. Following this consultation period, the Commission will formulate final recommendations, which it expects to publish in Autumn this year.
In the interests of transparency, the Commission says copies of all the representations it receives during this review are being placed on its website. A map of all areas of Northamptonshire, along with the electorate figures for each area, is also available on the website along with additional guidance and information.
Any representations can be made to the Commission by April 2, 2012 to the address below:
Review Officer (Northamptonshire)
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
76-86 Turnmill Street
Submissions can also be made by email to the address listed on the LGBCE website.