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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet: 20th May 2013

Report of the Leader

Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales: Electoral Reviews: Council Size Policy Consultation Paper

Purpose of the Report

1. To apprise Members of the above Consultation Paper and afford Political Groups and / or individual Members the opportunity of submitting comments to the Boundary Commission.

Recommendation

That the Consultation Paper be circulated to all Members of the Council in order to enable Political Groups and / or individual Members to submit any comments to the Boundary Commission by the deadline for such of 19th June 2013.

Reason for the Recommendation

To facilitate any responses considered appropriate.

Background

2. The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales is required to carry out periodic reviews of the electoral arrangements of principal areas in Wales. The way the Commission conducts an electoral review is defined by legislation and by Directions issued by the Welsh Government.

3. The Commission published its ‘Electoral Reviews: Policy and Practice’ paper on 12th March 2012.  That paper did not include the Commission’s approach to council size.  Accordingly, in May 2012, the Commission produced a consultation paper setting out a preliminary view of how council size might be determined as a precursor to an electoral review.

4. At the end of the initial consultation period the Commission had received responses from the majority of principal councils (including the Vale of Glamorgan Council), the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), political parties and individuals, including former councillors. The general response was in favour of an approach based on the identification of the number of councillors that would be appropriate to ensure the provision of effective and convenient local government for authorities. The specific methodology proposed by the paper was, however, not generally supported. There were some concerns about the suggested banding approach. The view was expressed that the methodology used and justification for establishing council sizes should be based upon wider factors than socio-geographical characteristics alone, and may need to include population density factors. There was also the view that the ratios of elector per councillor adopted in the consultation paper needed to be justified.

5. The 2012 consultation paper was considered by the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 16th July 2012 and, subsequently, Cabinet. A response was subsequently submitted by the Leader to the Boundary Commission. The original consultation paper set out the Commission’s preliminary view and approach as to how it believed Council size should be determined. The Commission proposed that Authorities should be grouped into the following four categories:

  • Rural – authorities with a predominantly rural composition
  • Urban – the most heavily populated areas
  • Valley – populated areas confined by unique physical environment
  • Other – authorities which contained a mixture of rural and urban characteristics.

    6. It was noted at the time that the Vale of Glamorgan had been allotted the category of “Other” and that the proposed number of Councillors showed an increase of four over the present membership (albeit this figure, i.e. 51, was, in turn subject to a potential further difference of plus or minus three).   

    Relevant Issues and Options

    7. Representatives of the Commission met with representatives of the WLGA in July 2012 to discuss the outcome of the consultation. At the meeting it was agreed that the Commission would work with the Local Government Data Unit - Wales to consider further the methodology used for determining council size and to investigate alternative data sets and methodologies. Further meetings were held with the WLGA and the Data Unit and, following detailed analysis work by the Data Unit, the Commission were able to consider alternative methodologies that utilised data that was both current and readily available.  Methodologies were considered which variously took account of electorate numbers, population size and measures of population density and urbanisation and a preferred methodology arrived at broadly based on the method currently in place in Scotland.

    8. A further consultation paper has been issued (attached at Appendix A) setting out the Commission’s further views and approach to how it believes council size should be determined, based on its experience, expertise and knowledge of local government. The Commission welcomes views from all interested parties, local authorities and individuals on this proposed approach. All views will be taken into account before the Commission comes to its final determination on how council size should be considered as part of an electoral review.

    9. It can be seen that, under the methodology used, the number of Members on the Council would increase from 47 to 51. At this stage, it is not known how, and in which Wards, the increase would be effected. This would be undertaken by means of an individual Electoral Review within the Vale of Glamorgan. However, attached as Appendix B for Members' information is a breakdown, on a Ward basis, of the number of Members, the total electorate and electorate per Member (as at May 2013) and the total population and population per Member (as at the 2011 Census).

    10. Comments on any aspect of this paper can be submitted.  However, the Commission has indicated it would be particularly useful if the specific questions detailed were addressed.   Under the circumstances, Political groups and / or individual Members are requested to send their views to the LGBCW by 19th June 2013. All comments should be emailed to lgbc.wales@wales.gsi.gov.uk or by post to the Commission’s new address at:

    Chief Executive

    Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales

    Hastings House

    Fitzalan Court

    Cardiff

    CF24 0BL

    Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

    11. The cost of Members' allowances will increase should the numbers of Members rise.

    Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

    12. There are no direct implications arising from the report.

    Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

    13. There are no direct implications arising from the report

    Crime and Disorder Implications

    14. There are no direct implications arising from the report.

    Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

    15. There are no direct implications arising from the report.

    Corporate/Service Objectives

    16. There are no direct implications arising from the report

    Policy Framework and Budget

    17. This is a matter for Executive decision.

    Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

    18. A copy of the report will be circulated to all Members of the Council to allow the opportunity for the submission of comments.

    Relevant Scrutiny Committee

    19. Corporate Resources.

    Background Papers

    Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales Consultation Paper: 27th March 2013

    Contact Officer

    Mr. J. Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services

    Officers Consulted

    Managing Director

    Head of Performance and Development

    Responsible Officer:

    Siân Davies, Managing Directo

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