Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Cornwall Council should get real: the number of councillors is going down

Although Cornwall was right at the top of the Boundary Commission's list for falling foul of its principle that every person's vote is worth the same, the Council has persuaded the Boundary Commission to put off reviewing this in time for 2017 local elections.

But the Commission still intends to sort it out in time for 2021 local elections.

The first stage is for the Council to express a view on what number of councillors Cornwall should have in 2021.

The Panel working on this first met yesterday.

Their first step was to go through the paperwork studiously crossing out any implication, express or implied, that the number of councillors would be reduced.

Apart from the public's views on this, there are at least two reasons why this approach is totally unrealistic.

First, committing to a smaller number of councillors was part of the Devolution Deal for Cornwall (which the Council approved last July).  It was a compromise to avoid having a mayor for Cornwall.

Second, as the divisions currently have so few voters that relatively small population changes make them unequal to a significant degree, the current number of councillors is not viable.  It means that the Council will for ever be spending time and public money reviewing and reworking the boundaries of its electoral divisions.
The last boundary review for Cornwall Council was described by the Boundary Commission as 'appalling' and 'the worst ever seen'. 

The recommendations from the panel will be influential in determining the outcome of the review but with public toilets, libraries, leisure centres and public spaces being devolved to other local organisations can Cornwall councillors reasonably resist reducing their own numbers?

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