Beech Hill

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District Council Boundary Changes

Following a request from West Berkshire Council, the Electoral Commission is carrying out a review of the Ward boundaries and the number of District Councillors from each ward to sit on the West Berkshire Council.

Their original report published in January 2017 recommended (among other things) that the Mortimer Ward (which includes Beech Hill and other Parishes in the area) should be reduced in size, and be represented by only one District Councillor compared with the current two (Mollie Lock and Graham Bridgman).

Having received revised projections the Electoral Commission is now reconsdering its recommendations and are holding another, month long, Public Consultation from 13th June to 10th July. Both individuals and organisations are encouraged to respond.

Below is a copy of a letter from the Boundaries Commission to our Parish Clerk which gives more details about the review including ways of getting in touch to put forward your views:

13 June 2017

Dear Ms Helen Malyn,

ELECTORAL REVIEW OF WEST BERKSHIRE: FURTHER WARDING ARRANGEMENTS

The Commission is carrying out a review to deliver electoral equality for voters across West Berkshire Council because of a request from the Council.

We wrote to you on 24 January 2017 inviting your views on warding patterns in West Berkshire. In response to correspondence received during that stage of consultation, we have decided to re-examine the electorate forecast figures provided by West Berkshire Council. The Commission relies on 5 year forecasts so that our proposals reflect future development and not just the existing electorate. It is important that we are satisfied with these figures.  The Commission has worked alongside West Berkshire Council to produce revised forecast figures for 2023. We believe that these updated figures are more likely to reflect the electorate by that time. Because these figures are, in some areas, significantly different to those we originally published in January 2017, we are now conducting an additional month-long consultation on warding patterns.

We are therefore writing to you again as well as everybody who responded to the previous consultation, offering the opportunity to submit new or amended proposals for future ward boundaries based on the new figures. When drawing up our draft recommendations we will consider all the submissions we received at the previous stage of consultation and those received in this new consultation.

What is an electoral review?

The electoral review will recommend new electoral arrangements for West Berkshire Council. It will propose:

  • 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.
  • Names of wards.

For parishes, the review can recommend changes to the electoral arrangements of parish and town councils i.e. the number, names and boundaries of parish wards and the number of parish councillors for each parish ward. However, this is only in circumstances where the parished area is to be divided between wards. Even in these circumstances, the Commission will not normally recommend any change to the number of councillors to be elected to a parish or town council. The Commission has no power to consider changes to the external boundaries of a parish or the creation of new parishes. 

When?

13 June 2017 is the start of a four-week public consultation during which the Commission is inviting proposals for new warding arrangements based on updated electoral forecasts. The consultation will close on 10 July 2017. After considering all representations made during this consultation and those received at the previous stage, the Commission intends to publish draft recommendations in August 2017. There will then be a further period of consultation on the draft recommendations. Final recommendations are expected to be published in January 2018. The new electoral arrangements will come into effect at the local elections in 2019.

How to get involved?

This is a public consultation and we welcome views from individuals and organisations across West Berkshire on where they think new ward patterns should be drawn.

The Commission is recommending that 42 councillors should be elected to West Berkshire Council in the future. It is now inviting proposals to help it draw up a pattern of wards to accommodate 42 councillors.

In drawing up a pattern of electoral wards, the Commission must balance three criteria, which are set out in law, namely:

·         To deliver electoral equality where each councillor represents roughly the same number of electors as others across West Berkshire.

·         That the pattern of wards should, as far as possible, reflect the interests and identities of local communities.

·         That the electoral arrangements should provide for effective and convenient local government.

We are asking local people and organisations for their views as to the best pattern of wards for West Berkshire which meet the requirements set out above.

The Commission will treat all submissions equally and will judge each case on its merits and against the statutory criteria. If you wish to put forward a view, we would also urge you to ensure that evidence supports your submission. For example, if you wish to argue that two parishes should be included in the same electoral ward, make sure you tell the Commission why they should be together, providing evidence about community facilities, ties, organisations, and amenities, rather than simply asserting that they belong together.

There is plenty more advice on our website about how you can get involved in the consultation and put your views forward. Log on to www.lgbce.org.uk to find out more. The website includes the technical guidance that explains the process and our policies as well as guidance on how to take part in each part of the process. We have set up a page on our site which is dedicated to the review of West Berkshire where you can find all the relevant information.

You can also access interactive maps of the current ward boundaries across West Berkshire on our specialist consultation portal. The portal also allows you to draw your own boundaries, mark areas of interest on the map and upload documents directly to the site. Log on to https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk to access the portal or find it via our main website.

Get in touch

We encourage as many people and organisations as possible to get involved with the consultation and we encourage local organisations and parish councils to engage their local networks and communities in the review.

View interactive maps of the West Berkshire, draw your own boundaries, and have your say at our specialist consultation portal at: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk.

Find out more about the review at: www.lgbce.org.uk.

Email your views to: reviews [at] lgbce.org.uk.

Follow us on Twitter at: @lgbce.

Write to:

Review Officer (West Berkshire)

Local Government Boundary Commission for England

14th Floor Millbank Tower

Millbank

London

SW1P 4QP

This phase of consultation closes on 10 July 2017. We will write to you again when we open our consultation on draft recommendations.

Please note that the interests of transparency, copies of the all representations we receive during this review will be placed on our website. We remove any personal identifying information such as signatures and private residential addresses prior to placing any submissions in the public domain.

Yours sincerely

Mishka Mayers

Review Officer

reviews [at] lgbce.org.uk

0330 500 1525

 

 

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