Home Somerset business Here’s how Somerset’s electoral boundaries could change drastically by May 2022

Here’s how Somerset’s electoral boundaries could change drastically by May 2022

5
0

The people of Somerset got their first glimpse of how their county’s electoral map could change shape by the time of next year’s local elections.

Work is underway to create a new unitary authority to replace Somerset County Council and the four District Councils by April 2023, following a government decision in July.

The five existing councils had all spoken in favor of retaining the existing electoral boundaries for the May 2022 local elections, in preparation for a full review by the Local Government Boundaries Commission for England (LGBCE) after the new board officially takes office.

READ MORE: DWP benefit applicants could owe £ 1,500 in arrears

But the government has ordered the boards to think again, giving them until October to come up with an option on how the map should be redesigned.

The five councils have now submitted their proposed options, with the government making a final decision later in the year.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why is this happening now?



Former Secretary of Communities Robert Jenrick MP

The short answer is: because the government decided it was necessary.

The One Somerset business case – presented by the county council – argued that the simplest option would be to hold the 2022 local elections (which had been delayed for a year) on the boundaries of existing divisions .

The number of councilors elected in May 2022 is said to have doubled from 55 to 110, with a subsequent review of the limits reducing the total number to 100.

But before losing his job in the recent cabinet reshuffle, then Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP ordered the five councils to think again, saying the government wanted Somerset to be ruled by between 85 and 90 councilors in total.

How did the five tips react?



Head of Somerset County Council David Fothergill
Head of Somerset County Council David Fothergill

County Council Chief David Fothergill said he had “real concerns” about the boundary changes when he wrote to newly appointed Communities Secretary Michael Gove MP on Friday (September 17th).

He said: “While we all believe that a boundary review is both necessary and appropriate, we also agree that it should be given the consideration, time and consultation necessary to realize Somerset’s vision as than stated in the Single Unit Business Case.

“Given the parameters and timeline set for this current boundary review, it would appear that no satisfactory protection options can be developed to meet this vision.”

Specifically, Mr Fothergill – and his four district counterparts – have raised concerns that new neighborhoods are too large and represent unequal numbers of people, which could lead to a localized democratic deficit.

According to them, this would undermine efforts to improve local decision-making through the proposed Local Community Networks (LCNs), which would have their own budgets and decision-making powers.

Without proper public consultation, they argued that there would be a “lack of transparency and commitment” that would undermine the very objectives of the new unitary council.

Mr. Fothergill concluded: “At the start of the new authority, it is only right that we have the right governance arrangements and structures to make it successful.

“The current schedule creates a major risk for this creation. We ask that more time be allowed to allow for an overhaul of the options.

“It is imperative that we get this right for Somerset.”

What are the proposals on the table?

Broadly speaking, there are three proposals that the councils have put forward for how the county might be organized:

  1. Option 1: combine the current boundaries of district wards in a different way to leave 85 advisers
  2. Option 2: combining the current boundaries of district neighborhoods to leave 100 advisers
  3. Option 3: using the current county council division boundaries and doubling the number of representatives to leave 110 advisers

However, the councils came up with different combinations for options 1 and 2, showing how the numbers could be achieved with single member parishes (1a and 2a) or a mix of single member and multi member parishes (2a and 2b) – so technically there are five options on the table for the government.

What is the easiest option?




If chosen, Option 3 will see the least change, as it will largely revert to maintaining the boundaries of existing county council divisions, but with two councilors for each division instead of one.

The only major change will come to Glastonbury and Street, which is currently the only two-member division of the board.

Rather than keep the existing boundaries and end up with a cumbersome four-member seat, the two colonies will be split up and each elect tourism advisor.

What about option 1a?




If option 1a is selected, here are some of the changes that will be implemented:

  • Castle Cary and Sparkford will be in the same neighborhood, as will Bruton and the villages east of Wincanton
  • The number of Chard tags will be reduced from five to two
  • The number of Frome neighborhoods will be reduced by one
  • Minehead’s number of wards will be reduced from four to two, with Porlock and Dulverton merging with the rest of Exmoor
  • Taunton’s pupil count will be reduced to eight
  • Wellington’s number of wards will be reduced from four to three, with the east of the city joining the rural neighborhood of Monument

What about option 1b?




If option 1b is selected, here are some of the changes that will be implemented:

  • Bridgwater will be divided into two districts, North Petherton joining Cannington and the villages east of the Quantock Hills
  • Castle Cary and Bruton will be in the same neighborhood
  • Frome will be split into two quarters, while Wells will only have one
  • Glastonbury and Street will each have a neighborhood
  • Minehead and Porlock will form a single district, with the rest of Exmoor joining Milverton and surrounding villages
  • Taunton will have four neighborhoods, with the Staplegrove community joining Bishop’s Lydeard and the villages west of the Quantock Hills
  • Watchet and Williton to merge with Old Cleeve and the Quantock Vale district
  • Wellington will have only one neighborhood, Rockwell Green joining the villages of the Blackdown Hills
  • Yeovil will be divided into three quarters

What about option 2a?




If option 2a is selected, here are some of the changes that will be implemented:

  • Evercreech and Nunney will be in the same neighborhood
  • The number of Frome neighborhoods will be reduced by one
  • Glastonbury and Street will see their number of neighborhoods reduced from four to two
  • The southern part of Minehead will connect to Porlock and the northern part of Exmoor, with the south of Exmoor joining Dulverton
  • Taunton’s pupil count will be reduced to eight

What about option 2b?




If option 2b is selected, here are some of the changes that will be implemented:

  • Bridgwater will be split into two wards, with Cannington and North Petherton being in separate wards
  • Frome will have two neighborhoods, with villages around town joining Butleigh and Ditcheat
  • Glastonbury and Street will each receive a district
  • Taunton will have six quarters, while Wellington will have only one
  • Yeovil will be divided into four quarters

What happens next?



Michael Gove, Minister of the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, arrives at Downing Street
Michael Gove, the new Minister of Grading, Housing and Communities

The new Department for Leveling, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will examine the options offered by the councils in the run-up to Christmas.

Mr Gove is expected to make a final decision at that time and submit a bill to Parliament before the end of March 2022 to implement the agreed limits.

Local elections are expected to take place on May 5, 2022 .


Source link