«Report to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions May 2000 LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ...»
Final recommendations on the
future electoral arrangements
for Gedling in Nottinghamshire
Report to the Secretary of State for the
Environment, Transport and the Regions
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION
This report sets out the Commission’s final recommendations on the electoral arrangements for
the borough of Gedling in Nottinghamshire.
Members of the Commission are:
Professor Malcolm Grant (Chairman) Professor Michael Clarke CBE (Deputy Chairman) Peter Brokenshire Kru Desai Pamela Gordon Robin Gray Robert Hughes CBE Barbara Stephens (Chief Executive) © Crown Copyright 2000 Applications for reproduction should be made to: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office Copyright Unit.
The mapping in this report is reproduced from OS mapping by the Local Government Commission for England with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, © Crown Copyright.
Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Licence Number: GD 03114G.
This report is printed on recycled paper.
Report no: 155
ii LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND
LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE vSUMMARY vii 1 INTRODUCTION 1
2 CURRENT ELECTORAL ARRANGEMENTS 3
3 DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS 7
4 RESPONSES TO CONSULTATION 9
5 ANALYSIS AND FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS 116 NEXT STEPS 33
A Final Recommendations for Gedling:
Detailed Mapping 35 B Draft Recommendations for Gedling (December 1999) 39 A large map illustrating the proposed ward boundaries for Arnold and Carlton is inserted inside the back cover of the report.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND
iv LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLANDLocal Government Commission for England 16 May 2000 Dear Secretary of State On 18 May 1999 the Commission began a periodic electoral review of Gedling under the Local Government Act 1992. We published our draft recommendations in December 1999 and undertook a ten-week period of consultation.
We have now prepared our final recommendations in the light of the consultation. We have substantially confirmed our draft recommendations, although some modifications have been made (see paragraph 118) in the light of further evidence. This report sets out our final recommendations for changes to electoral arrangements in Gedling.
We recommend that Gedling Borough Council should be served by 50 councillors representing 22 wards, and that changes should be made to ward boundaries in order to improve electoral equality, having regard to the statutory criteria. We recommend that elections for the Council should continue to take place every four years.
The Local Government Bill, containing legislative proposals for a number of changes to local authority electoral arrangements, is currently being considered by Parliament. However, until such time as that new legislation is in place we are obliged to conduct our work in accordance with current legislation, and to continue our current approach to periodic electoral reviews.
I would like to thank members and officers of the Borough Council and other local people who have contributed to the review. Their co-operation and assistance have been very much appreciated by Commissioners and staff.
PROFESSOR MALCOLM GRANTChairman
The Commission began a review of Gedling on 18 May 1999. We published our draft recommendations for electoral arrangements on 14 December 1999, after which we undertook a ten-week period of consultation.
These 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.
All further correspondence on these recommendations and the matters discussed in this report should be addressed to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, who will not make an order implementing the Commission’s recommendations before 27 June 2000:
The Secretary of State Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Local Government Sponsorship Division Eland House Bressenden Place London SW1E 5DU
viii LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLANDFigure 1: The Commission’s Final Recommendations: Summary
Source: Electorate figures are based on information provided by Gedling Borough Council.
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 borough. The minus symbol (-) denotes a lower than average number of electors. Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
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 have had regard to:
• the statutory criteria contained in section 13(5) of the Local Government Act 1992, ie
the need to:
• the Rules to be Observed in Considering Electoral Arrangements contained in Schedule 11 to the Local Government Act 1972.
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 district.
5 We have also had regard to our Guidance and Procedural Advice for Local Authorities and Other Interested Parties (third edition published in October 1999), which 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 configurations 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 The broad objective of PERs is to achieve, so far as practicable, equality of representation across the district as a whole. Our aim is to achieve as low a level of electoral imbalance as is practicable, having regard to our statutory criteria. 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 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 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, i.e. in year one half of the district council would be elected, in year two half 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. The proposals were being taken forward in a Local Government Bill, published in December 1999, and are currently being considered by Parliament.
10 Following publication of the White Paper, we advised all authorities in our 1999/00 PER programme, including the Nottinghamshire districts, that the Commission would continue to maintain its current approach to PERs as set out in the October 1999 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.
11 This review was in four stages. 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 borough, the Members of Parliament with constituency interests in the borough and the 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, issued a press release and invited the Borough Council to publicise the review further. The closing date for receipt of representations, the end of Stage One, was 17 September 1999. At Stage Two we considered all the representations received during Stage One and prepared our draft recommendations.
12 Stage Three began on 14 December 1999 with the publication of our report, Draft recommendations on the future electoral arrangements for Gedling in Nottinghamshire, and ended on 21 February 2000. Comments were sought on our preliminary conclusions. Finally, during Stage Four we reconsidered our draft recommendations in the light of the Stage Three consultation and now publish our final recommendations.
2 LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND2 CURRENT ELECTORAL ARRANGEMENTS
13 The borough of Gedling lies immediately to the north-east of the city of Nottingham, and contains a mixture of suburban and rural communities, covering 12,003 hectares. It is bordered by Sherwood Forest to the north, while the River Trent forms its southern boundary. It is primarily residential, with the two major towns in the borough being Arnold and Carlton, comprising 33 per cent and 35 per cent of the borough’s total electorate respectively. There are 11 parishes in the borough, all of which are situated in rural areas, except for the urban parish of Colwick.
14 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’.
15 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.
16 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.
17 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 borough average, of which four wards vary by more than 20 per cent and two wards vary 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.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLANDMap 1: Existing Wards in Gedling
4 LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION FOR ENGLANDFigure 3: Existing Electoral Arrangements
Source: Electorate figures are based on information provided by Gedling Borough Council 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 borough. The minus symbol (-) denotes a lower than average number of electors. For example, in 1999, electors in Lambley ward were relatively over-represented by 32 per cent, while electors in Bestwood Park ward were relatively under-represented by 136 per cent. Figures have been rounded to the nearest whole number.