It’s an ‘Extraordinary’ meeting of Full Council today, and with any luck it will be the final round of a very long game of musical chairs.
The council’s Electoral Review Panel are putting forward for debate three schemes for the future pattern of electoral divisions across Cornwall – one for 87 councillors and two options for 88 councillors. Members will be deciding today on their proposed response to the Local Government Boundary Commission’s consultation on Cornwall Council’s electoral arrangements.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England announced in September that from 2021, Cornwall Council should have 87 councillors, down from the current 123. The Boundary Commission is, therefore, consulting on where to draw the boundaries of 87 divisions in Cornwall, but it has indicated that in exceptional circumstances it may be justifiable to reduce or increase this figure by one Member to 86 or 88. In recent weeks, members of the Council’s Electoral Review Panel agreed to make recommendations for an 87 division scheme as required, but also for an 88 division scheme.
After a meeting last week where one option for 88 divisions was reduced to 87 in a process which saw members make improvements to officers’ proposals in the West of Cornwall, the Panel has resolved to recommend a scheme to Full Council todayy with a number of options for them to debate and decide.
The Council’s options will include whether to submit the proposed scheme of 87 divisions and whether to also submit a scheme of 88 divisions, and how to accommodate an 88th division if so. In addition, some specific areas of Cornwall may be debated. For example in areas like Hayle, Newquay and Wadebridge, where part of the Panel felt that an alternative pattern of boundaries should go forward, those options will go to Council alongside the recommended scheme so that all Members may take a view if they wish.
“A cross-party group of Members and officers have worked incredibly hard in a short period of time to get these proposals ready for the meeting of the Full Council “ said Councillor Malcolm Brown, Chairman of the Electoral Review Panel. “I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in this process. Many, many hours of meetings have helped us weigh input from members of the public, Parish Councils and Cornwall Council members from all political groups to get to this point. While difficult decisions have had to be made in some areas, this exercise has given the panel the confidence to be unanimous in its recommendations to Council”.
“Following Thursday’s meeting the Panel has unanimously agreed revised proposals for Full Council, which will make a final decision on our submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission’s consultation.”
MORE CORNISH STUFF
This is the first review of electoral divisions to take place in Cornwall since the creation of the unitary Council in 2009 and the main aim is to ensure that all Councillors represent, as far as practically possible, a similar number of voters. As well as confirming the total number of councillors from 2021, the review also considers the names and boundaries of the electoral divisions.
The deadline for submissions to the Boundary Commission about electoral divisions is 19 February. The submission from the Council, together with responses from other organisations and individuals, will then be analysed by the LGBCE before it publishes its recommendations for the electoral divisions on 8 May. There will then be a further period of public consultation on these proposals before the LGBCE publishes its final recommendations on 2 October 2018. The Order implementing the final electoral arrangements will then be laid before Parliament with the changes coming into effect for the 2021 elections.