READING residents are being asked to comment on draft changes to the make-up of wards across the Borough as part of a review by the independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
A 10-week consultation on the LGBC recommendations was launched today (Feb 4th) and runs until April 13th.
The Commission is carrying out an electoral review of Reading Borough Council to deliver electoral equality for voters across the borough in local elections. At the moment, some borough councillors represent many more, or many fewer, electors than their colleagues elsewhere in the borough. The review aims to correct imbalances so that by 2025 the number of electors per councillor in a ward is within 10% of the average for the authority.
Recommendations are based only on how many electors there are now, but also on how many there are likely to be in five years’ time, taking into account likely housing growth in wards.
Following a period of consultation with local communities and the Council last year – which included one borough-wide proposal from the Council which developed its proposals through a cross-party working group – the principal of 48 ward councillors (up from 46) was agreed. It was also agreed to create the three-member wards of Caversham, Emmer Green and The Heights, in the north of the borough.
The LGBC is now consulting on its draft recommendations. These include proposals for significant changes to ward boundaries in Whitley, Redlands and Church Wards due to major housing developments at Kennet Island and Green Park.
The full recommendations and detailed interactive maps are available on the Commission’s website at consultation.lgbce.org.uk and www.lgbce.org.uk. Hard copies of the Commission’s report and maps are also available to view from today (Feb 4th) in the Civic Offices Reception.
Reading Borough Council Leader, Councillor Jason Brock, said:
“The development of major new housing schemes in some parts of Reading mean it is only right that ward boundaries should be periodically reviewed. The proposed changes will mean that each councillor would represent a more equally-sized electorate. This is important because we want everyone’s vote in council elections to count, regardless of where they live.
“I would urge residents to take some time to look at and comment on the updated proposals which have been put forward by the LGBC following a period of consultation last year. I’d also like to thank the Commission for its detailed work in Reading to ensure proposed new boundaries reflect the identities of local communities across the town.”
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is responsible for reviewing local authority electoral arrangements, defining boundaries for local elections and the number of councillors to be elected, as well as conducting reviews of local government external boundaries and structures.
The Commission wants to hear as much evidence as possible to develop final recommendations for Reading by the April 13th deadline.
The types of questions the Commission is asking residents at this stage are: Do the proposed wards reflect local communities?; How do you think the proposals can be improved whilst maintaining electoral equality?; Are the names of the proposed wards right?
People can write to: The Review Officer (Reading) Local Government Boundary Commission for England 1st Floor, Windsor House 50 Victoria Street London SW1H 0TL or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also have their say directly through the Commission’s consultation portal: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/18202
The link to the dedicated web page for the Reading electoral review is: http://www.lgbce.org.uk/all-reviews/south-east/berkshire/reading
The Commission will consider all submissions and aims to publish its final recommendations in September 2020. Once the Commission agrees its final recommendations it will lay a draft order in both Houses of Parliament. Parliament will then have 40 days in which to consider the recommendations. If both Houses are satisfied with the recommendations, the draft order will be ‘made’ and the new wards will come into effect at the council elections in May 2022. The proposed changes will not impact on the up and coming local elections in May 2020.