Friday, 28 October 2016

Boundary Review Letters

Kate Kennally Chief Executive
Cornwall Council
The Exchange, County Hall
Treyew Road
Truro TR1 3AY

21 October 2016
Dear Kate,
Thank you for the Council’s detailed first draft submission on council size along with the copy of the Cornwall Council Strategic Governance Review Report. It was helpful to receive this material in time for the Commission to consider it at its meeting on 18 October. The purpose of this note is to outline the Commission’s initial observations.
I should start by saying that the Commission has asked me to convey their appreciation for the considerable work that is being put into the exercise, both by members of the electoral review panel and by officers. From the outset, the Council and the Commission committed to working together closely in order to achieve the best outcome for the future of Cornwall and that remains our shared objective.
It is evident that much effort has gone into this initial analysis, largely by way of comparisons with other councils. Also, there is much helpful material in the survey of existing members. However, whilst such data is useful in a contextual sense, the Commission was surprised that the opportunity had not so far been taken to address fundamental issues about arrangements concerning governance, accountability, and community leadership for the new Council in order to understand the level the elected member capacity required in what will, essentially, be a very different kind of authority.
As was indicated at our initial briefings, the Commission views each authority as a distinct political entity and, consequently, regards comparisons with other councils as being of limited value. This will be particularly true in the case of Cornwall with the exciting and ambitious plans set out in your devolution deal. However, the Commission felt that the work so far has used the current council size as its starting point with relatively little apparent movement away from a ‘business as usual’ approach.
For the next submission, therefore, the Commission anticipates that the panel will wish to explore the opportunity provided by the review to go back to ‘first principles’ to suggest what number of councillors might be required under the new arrangements. Requirements to meet governance, accountability and community leadership needs are
the three aspects that inform the Commission’s judgment when setting the number of councillors.
In encouraging the panel to take this approach, the Commission notes the preface of the Council’s Strategic Governance Review Report. which observes that the Council is being presented ‘with a once in a decade opportunity to develop and implement a new model of governance over the course of the next four years……’. Also, it will be expecting to get a better understanding of how the Governance Review Report’s reflections and recommendations on the role and number of councillors has informed the panel’s view about council size.
In addition, the Commission would find it helpful to see how the proposal for a more strategic role for Cornwall Council working alongside town and parish councils under a devolution arrangement impacts on councillor numbers.
We hope that the Council will address these aspects explicitly in drawing up its next submission for December. At that point, I should stress that we are not expecting to see a fully worked up submission but rather an assessment that addresses these points and what they suggest for council size. We note that it has already observed that the next stage might point to a different range than that identified so far. The Commission can then reflect further and, informed by our comments, the detail can then be worked up for the final submission.
Finally, the Commission recognises that there are a range of views about how Cornwall could be governed going forward and it acknowledges that there may be more than a single view presented to it. Alternative submissions could come from groups of councillors, or a single councillor. It is content to accept more than one submission and none of them are required to be endorsed by full council. As with all of our electoral reviews, every submission is judged on the basis of the evidence provided, irrespective of its source. Also, the Commission can consult more widely on the most appropriate number of councillors for Cornwall, including a full public consultation if necessary.
Separately, the Commission has received a request from the Leader of the Council requesting a slight delay in the warding phase of the review in order to allow for the new Council elected in May 2017 to settle in and I am pleased to confirm that the Commission has agreed to this request. This does not change the schedule for the council size submission.
I hope that these observations are helpful and will assist the panel in taking forward their work. Needless to say, Commission officers will continue to help in any way they can. I look forward to receiving the next view on 16 December.
Yours sincerely
Jolyon Jackson Chief Executive
Local Government Boundary Commission for England
0330 500 1290

Local Government Boundary Commission for England, 14th Floor Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP

John Pollard Leader of the Council
Cornwall Council
The Exchange, County Hall
Treyew Road
Truro TR1 3AY
21 October 2016

Dear John,
Thank you for your letter of 14 October requesting a delay to the start of the first consultation phase on warding patterns that will form part of the electoral review of Cornwall. The Commission has considered this request and appreciates your desire to allow time for the new Council to settle and have sufficient opportunity to consider options for warding following the May 2017 elections. Like you, we want to ensure that there is full participation in the process and, therefore, recognises that this is a sensible proposal.
Accordingly, the Commission will accept your suggestion and amend its programme to the following dates:
Warding pattern consultation 25 July – 2 October 2017 Draft recommendations LGBCE meeting 21 November 2017 Draft recommendations consultation 18 December 2017 – 26 February 2018 Final recommendations LGBCE meeting 17 April 2018 Final recommendations published 15 May 2018
We anticipate that it is likely that we will receive more than one submission for warding patterns during this phase – both for the whole of Cornwall and for various localities. This is commonplace and will allow both the councillors and the people of Cornwall to give them full consideration.
Finally, you also refer to the work of the electoral review group and indicate that it would be useful to have feedback on their early thoughts on council size. It was helpful to the draft submission from the group in time for the Commission to consider at its meeting earlier this week. Jolyon Jackson will be writing to Kate Kennally in the next day or so setting out the Commission’s observations.
Local Government Boundary Commission for England, 14th Floor Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP
Tel: 0330 500 1525;;
I hope that this is helpful and, of course, fully reciprocate your view about the importance of the Council and Commission continuing to work together closely in order to achieve the best outcome for the future of Cornwall.
Best wishes
Professor Colin Mellors

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