Public to have say on council boundary shift

THE Local Government Boundary Commission for England are asking residents for their help to draw up a new pattern of wards for Woking Borough Council.

Following a public consultation last year, the independent commission have also announced that they favour the recommendation that the local authority should reduce their number of councillors from the current 36 to 30 in future.

LOCAL APPEAL – Chairman Max Caller

LOCAL APPEAL – Chairman Max Caller

This would mean that there would be three borough councillors for each of the 10 wards when the whole council stand for re-election in 2016.

The commission are responsible for reviewing local authority electoral arrangements, defining boundaries for local elections and the number of councillors to be elected, as well as conducting reviews of local government external boundaries and structures.

They are now asking for information from residents and groups across Woking to enable them to produce new ward boundaries to accommodate a reduced number of officials. In drawing up these boundaries, the commission aim to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters.

The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Woking.

Boundary Commission Chairman, Max Caller, said: “The starting point of an electoral review is for the commission to take a view on the number of councillors who should represent the authority in future.

“On the evidence presented to us, we are minded to recommend that Woking should have 30 councillors in future, six fewer than at present.

“We are now asking local people and organisations to help us draw up new wards for Woking.

“As we develop the recommendations, we will take into account local community identities as well as ensuring electoral equality for voters.

“Your views will make a difference. We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during this phase of the review, whoever it is from, and whether it applies to the whole of Woking or just a small part of the borough.

“We will publish all the submissions on our website so that local people can see all the various proposals we receive.

“Residents will then have a further chance to have their say after we publish our draft recommendations in July 2014.”

Leader of Woking Borough Council, Councillor John Kingsbury, said: “I am delighted that the Boundary Commission supported our submission that the size of the council should be reduced to 30 members from 2016.

“This will save money for residents whilst ensuring that local people are properly represented.

“We have been committed to improving value for money over recent years and this will help us to continue to do so in the future.”

The council have set up a task group of five councillors to look at where the boundaries should be before the proposals go to public consultation.

Cllr Kingsbury added: “We will be publishing our initial thoughts on the revised wards in the borough in February.

“As we are continuing to hold elections each year with a third of the seats on the council being contested [in rotation], our new wards, as required by the new national arrangements, will each be ‘three-member wards’.

“Accordingly, our proposals will show how the borough can, in our view, be properly represented by 10 three-member wards.

“It is our intention to publish our initial proposals for public consultation and then take representations into account before determining our submission to the Boundary Commi-ssion in late March.”

The proposals will also be displayed on boards in the town centre.

Residents have until April 1 to submit their views to the Boundary Commission. Further information on the boundary review and interactive maps of the existing wards can be seen at www.consultation.lgbce.org.uk and www.lgbce.org.uk

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