Opinion invited on future size and shape of Buckinghamshire Council
Friday, October 8th, 2021
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is consulting on the future size and shape of Buckinghamshire Council.
The purpose of the electoral review is to make recommendations on:
- the total number of Councillors elected to the council in the future;
- the number of wards;
- the number of Councillors representing each ward;
- ward boundaries; and
- the names of wards.
In this first phase, it is inviting local people, parish and town councils and organisations for their opinion on the optimum number of Councillors as from the 2025 elections. This will run from 7th September to 2nd November 2021.
The present unitary Council has 147 ‘Members’ (ie Councillors). This was always intended to be an interim number, before the Council assumes its final shape.
General principles of electoral reviews include:
- Ensure that, within an authority, each councillor represents a similar number of electors
- Create boundaries that are appropriate, and reflect community ties and identities
- Deliver reviews informed by local needs, views and circumstances
The Commission has received three submissions with very varied proposals:
- A recent proposal from the Council itself, of 120 Councillors. Council Size Options Paper – Councillor Numbers – Feb 2021
- 98 Councillors, as proposed in the ‘Business Case’ by the former County Council in 2016 when a new unitary council was being considered. Modernising Local Government in Buckinghamshire – Business Case September 2016.
- A proposal of 65-80 Councillors, and no more than 98, from a report commissioned by Buckinghamshire Business First from EY in 2014.
The Commission is asking for views on these three visions, or indeed for alternative suggestions. It stresses that it will take an evidence-based decision, and for submissions to explain WHY they support a certain number, or indeed another. It needs submissions to take into account factors such as:
- the way the Council is led, makes decisions, and operates
- how the Council’s work is scrutinised by Councillors in order to ensure that the Council is properly run and publicly accountable
- the Council’s interaction with, and representation on other local and regional bodies
Following a decision on the appropriate number of Councillors, the Commission will then initiate a further consultation on the ward boundaries within the council area.
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