Issue - meetings
Democratic Representation - Boundary Review
The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager introduced the report that had been produced following consideration of the Council’s Strategic Priorities by the Policy and Resources Committee in September 2020, which included Democratic Representation. The report had set out that no stone should remain unturned in the consideration of savings and priorities for the Council going forward. It had been identified that savings could be achieved through whole council elections and an assessment of the number of Members through a boundary review, if agreed.
The Council met two of the criteria set by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) to conduct a boundary review; variation in the average number of electors per member and 20 years since the last review being past the 14 year requirement. In answer to Member concerns it was clarified that in the event that Unitary Authorities were brought into force for Kent during the boundary review, LGBCE would pause the process.
If a boundary review were agreed, a significant piece of work would be undertaken between June 2021 until November 2021 to develop proposals for the Council. Whole Council elections would then follow, with the LGBCE likely to aim for this to occur in 2024. It was explained that prior to the review the Council would need to be clear on its governance arrangements and electoral cycle so additional reports would be needed on these, subject to Committee agreement.
Whilst there were concerns expressed about the possible reduction in Councillor numbers arising from the review, it was felt that the review would need to take place before outcomes were considered. It was reiterated that Members would be consulted throughout the process, with the LGBCE to consider the Council’s views in conducting a review.
1. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) be informed that Maidstone requests a Ward Boundary Review;
2. In light of the potential changes a boundary review would bring, and the impact of electoral cycle, governance arrangements, and scrutiny arrangements on that review, the following be agreed for the next meeting of the Committee:
a. A report recommending that Council votes on whether to switch to Whole Council Elections, to include the impacts of a Ward Boundary Review;
b. A report recommending that Council votes on its future governance arrangements for decision making and scrutiny (Leader and Cabinet or Committee system);
c. Political groups be consulted and engaged in the reports on Whole Council elections and governance arrangements and on matters such as council size and the review generally; and
3. In the event of any definite proposals on Unitary Authorities coming forward the LGBCE will consider ‘pausing’ a review to allow those proposals to conclude, be noted.