«December 1999 LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND The Local Government Commission for England is an ...»
Draft Recommendations on the
future electoral arrangements
for Gedling in Nottinghamshire
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION
The Local Government Commission for England is an independent body set up by Parliament.
Our task is to review and make recommendations to the Government on whether there should
be changes to the structure of local government, the boundaries of individual local authority areas, and their electoral arrangements.
Members of the Commission are:
Professor Malcolm Grant (Chairman) Professor Michael Clarke (Deputy Chairman) Kru Desai Peter Brokenshire Pamela Gordon Robin Gray Robert Hughes CBE Barbara Stephens (Chief Executive) We are statutorily required to review periodically the electoral arrangements – such as the number of councillors representing electors in each area and the number and boundaries of wards and electoral divisions – of every principal local authority in England. In broad terms our objective is to ensure that the number of electors represented by each councillor in an area is as nearly as possible the same, taking into account local circumstances. We can recommend changes to ward boundaries, and the number of councillors and ward names. We can also make recommendations for change to the electoral arrangements of parish councils in the district.
This report sets out the Commission’s draft recommendations on the electoral arrangements for the borough of Gedling in Nottinghamshire.
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CONTENTSpage SUMMARY v 1 INTRODUCTION 1
2 CURRENT ELECTORAL
3 REPRESENTATIONS RECEIVED 9
4 ANALYSIS AND DRAFTRECOMMENDATIONS 11 5 NEXT STEPS 33
A Draft Recommendations for Gedling:
Detailed Mapping 35
The Commission began a review of the electoral arrangements for Gedling on 18 May 1999.
• This report summarises the representations we received during the first stage of the review, and makes draft recommendations for change.
We found that the existing electoral arrangements provide unequal representation of electors in
These draft recommendations seek to ensure that the number of electors represented by each borough councillor is as nearly as possible the same, having regard to local circumstances.
• After considering local views, we will decide whether to modify our draft recommendations and then make our final recommendations to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
• It will then be for the Secretary of State to accept, modify or reject our final recommendations. He will also determine when any changes come into effect.
You should express your views by writing directly to the Commission at the address below by 21 February 2000:
Review Manager Gedling Review Local Government Commission for England Dolphyn Court 10/11 Great Turnstile London WC1V 7JU Fax: 020 7404 6142 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Commission’s Draft Recommendations: Summary
Notes: 1 The towns of Arnold and Carlton – except Colwick parish – are unparished.
2 Map 2, Appendix A and the large map in the back of the report illustrate the proposed wards outlined above.
viii LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLANDFigure 2: The Commission’s Draft Recommendations for Gedling
Source: Electorate figures are based on Gedling Borough Council’s submission.
Note: The ‘variance from average’ column shows by how far, in percentage terms, the number of electors per councillor varies from the average for the district. The minus symbol (-) denotes a lower than average number of electors. Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
1 This report contains our draft recommendations on the electoral arrangements for the borough of Gedling in Nottinghamshire on which we are now consulting. We are reviewing the eight districts in Nottinghamshire as part of our programme of periodic electoral reviews (PERs) of all 386 principal local authority areas in England. Our programme started in 1996 and is currently expected to be completed by 2004.
2 This is our first review of the electoral arrangements of Gedling. The last such review was undertaken by our predecessor, the Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBC), which reported to the Secretary of State in October 1975 (Report No. 71). The electoral arrangements of Nottinghamshire County Council were last reviewed in May 1980 (Report No. 383). We expect to review the County Council’s electoral arrangements in 2002.
3 In undertaking these reviews, we must have regard to:
4 We are required to make recommendations to the Secretary of State on the number of councillors who should serve on the Borough Council, and the number, boundaries and names of wards. We can also make recommendations on the electoral arrangements for parish and town councils in the borough.
5 We also have regard to our Guidance and Procedural Advice for Local Authorities and Other Interested Parties (second edition published in March 1998). This sets out our approach to the reviews.
6 In our Guidance, we state that we wish wherever possible to build on schemes which have been prepared locally on the basis of careful and effective consultation. Local interests are normally in a better position to judge what council size and ward configuration are most likely to secure effective and convenient local government in their areas, while allowing proper reflection of the identities and interests of local communities.
7 Second, the broad objective of PERs is then to achieve, so far as practicable, equality of representation across the district as a whole. For example, we will require particular justification for schemes which would result in, or retain, an electoral imbalance of over 10 per cent in any ward. Any imbalances of 20 per cent or more should only arise in the most exceptional circumstances, and will require the strongest justification.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND8 Third, we are not prescriptive on council size. We start from the general assumption that the existing council size already secures effective and convenient local government in that district but we are willing to look carefully at arguments why this might not be so. However, we have found it necessary to safeguard against upward drift in the number of councillors, and we believe that any proposal for an increase in council size will need to be fully justified: in particular, we do not accept that an increase in a district’s electorate should automatically result in an increase in the number of councillors, nor that changes should be made to the size of a district council simply to make it more consistent with the size of other districts.
9 The review is in four stages (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Stages of the Review
10 In July 1998 the Government published a White Paper, Modern Local Government – In Touch with the People, which set out legislative proposals for local authority electoral arrangements. In two-tier areas, it proposed introducing a pattern in which both the district and county councils would hold elections every two years, ie in year one half of the district council would be elected, in year two half of the county council would be elected, and so on. The Government stated that local accountability would be maximised where every elector has an opportunity to vote every year, thereby pointing to a pattern of two-member wards (and divisions) in two-tier areas. However, it stated that there was no intention to move towards very large electoral areas in sparsely populated rural areas, and that single-member wards (and electoral divisions) would continue in many authorities.
11 Following publication of the White Paper, we advised all authorities in our 1998/99 PER programme, including the Nottinghamshire districts, that until any direction is received from the Secretary of State, the Commission would continue to maintain its current approach to PERs as set out in the March 1998 Guidance. Nevertheless, we considered that local authorities and other interested parties might wish to have regard to the Secretary of State’s intentions and legislative proposals in formulating electoral schemes as part of PERs of their areas.
12 Stage One began on 18 May 1999, when we wrote to Gedling Borough Council inviting proposals for future electoral arrangements. We also notified Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottinghamshire Police Authority, the local authority associations, Nottinghamshire Local Councils Association, parish councils in the district, the Members of Parliament with constituency interests in the borough, Members of the European Parliament for the East Midlands Region, and the headquarters of the main political parties. We placed a notice in the local press,
2 LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLANDissued a press release and invited the Borough Council to publicise the review further. At the request of the Borough Council, the closing date for receipt of representations was extended by two weeks, to 17 September 1999.
13 At Stage Two we considered all the representations received during Stage One and prepared our draft recommendations.
14 Stage Three began on 14 December 1999 and will end on 21 February 2000. This stage involves publishing the draft recommendations in this report and public consultation on them.
We take this consultation very seriously and it is therefore important that all those interested in the review should let us have their views and evidence, whether or not they agree with our draft recommendations.
15 During Stage Four we will reconsider the draft recommendations in the light of the Stage Three consultation, decide whether to move away from them in any areas, and submit final recommendations to the Secretary of State. Interested parties will have a further six weeks to make representations to the Secretary of State. It will then be for him to accept, modify or reject our final recommendations. If the Secretary of State accepts the recommendations, with or without modification, he will make an order. The Secretary of State will determine when any changes come into effect.
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2 CURRENT ELECTORAL ARRANGEMENTS16 Gedling lies immediately to the north-east of the city of Nottingham, and contains a mixture of suburban and rural communities, covering some 12,003 hectares. It is bordered by Sherwood Forest to the north, while the River Trent forms its southern boundary. It is primarily residential.
The two major towns in the borough, Arnold and Carlton, comprise 33 per cent and 35 per cent respectively of the borough’s total electorate. There are 11 parishes in the borough, all of which are situated in rural areas, except for the urban parish of Colwick.
17 To compare levels of electoral inequality between wards, we calculated the extent to which the number of electors per councillor in each ward (the councillor:elector ratio) varies from the borough average in percentage terms. In the text which follows this calculation may also be described using the shorthand term ‘electoral variance’.
18 The electorate of the borough is 87,977 (February 1999). The Council presently has 57 members who are elected from 24 wards, seven of which are relatively rural, the remainder being predominantly suburban. 13 of the wards are each represented by three councillors, seven are each represented by two councillors and four are single-member wards. Whole council elections take place every four years.
19 Since the last electoral review there has been an increase in the electorate in Gedling borough, with around 16 per cent more electors than two decades ago as a result of new housing developments. The most notable increase has been in Bestwood Park ward, with approximately 2,700 more electors than 20 years ago.
20 At present, each councillor represents an average of 1,543 electors, which the Borough Council forecasts will increase to 1,602 by the year 2004, if the present number of councillors is maintained. Due to demographic and other changes over the past two decades, the number of electors per councillor in 11 of the 24 wards varies by more than 10 per cent from the district average, four wards by more than 20 per cent and two wards by more than 30 per cent. The worst electoral imbalance is in Bestwood Park ward where the councillor represents 136 per cent more electors than the borough average.