To consider a report by the Director (LD) (reference 16/96) attached.
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (LD) (Reference 16/96) seeking Members’ support to request the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) to carry out an electoral review of the Borough of Scarborough. In presenting the report, the Portfolio Holder for Democracy, Neighbourhoods, Stronger and Safer Communities, highlighted the far reaching changes in the operation of the Council, and the significant technological advances since the last review in 1999, which justified a request for an electoral review to ensure that the total number of councillors and warding patterns were fit for purpose to manage the business of the authority and represent local communities effectively into the future. This would be an objective, evidence-based review undertaken by an independent body. The Chairman also welcomed the report, adding that he had discussed the issue with the Chair of the LGBCE and other district council leaders in North Yorkshire. He noted that Harrogate Borough Council was currently subject to a review, and that both Hambleton and Selby District Councils had reduced their number of councillors from 44 to 28, and from 41 to 31 respectively in 2015 as a result of electoral reviews. Councillor Cockerill commented that he did not feel the Council should pre-empt the outcome of the review by indicating a percentage reduction in councillors at this stage. This stance was supported by other Cabinet members who referred to the increases in population in some wards that may have a bearing on the number of councillors representing these wards and their boundaries. The Democratic Services Manager, Mr Harris then provided further explanation about the review process. The Council was being asked to propose an indicative number of councillors based on the reasons in the report. This number of councillors would serve as a hypothesis to be tested by the LGBCE in the subsequent review based on submissions from this Council and other parties to determine the size of the Council. The second phase of the LGBCE’s review would then consider warding patterns based on the Council size they determined which would reflect community identities and interests and deliver high levels of electoral equality, by taking into account projected changes in the electorate up to five years after the review. The recommendations in the report were then put to the vote, and were carried by a majority of the Cabinet.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet:
(i) Agrees an indicative number of councillors to sit on this authority as proposed in paragraph 5.8 of the report to serve as the basis of a request to the LGBCE to undertake an electoral review and of the Borough and as the starting point for that review for the reasons given in the report; and
(ii) Recommends that the Council:
a) Supports this request to the LGBCE to undertake an electoral review of the Borough of Scarborough based on this indicative number of councillors for the reasons given in the report; and
b) In the event that the LGBCE accepts the Council’s request to undertake an electoral review, delegates to Cabinet in consultation with the Governance Working Group, the Council’s submissions to the LGBCE.
· The last review of the Council’s electoral arrangements was carried out in 1999 prior to the introduction of the Local Government Act 2000 and the implementation of executive arrangements, which have brought significant changes to the way the Council operates. The Localism Act 2011 has introduced further changes which have streamlined Council’s decision making e.g. in standards
· Considerable technological advances have also affected councillors’ representative role highlighting further the need for a review