SOUTH HOLLAND DISTRICT COUNCIL: Invitation to review electoral boundaries to be sent, despite doubts
An offer to review district council wards in South Holland is to be made, despite doubts over its timing.
Council members agreed to invite the Boundary Commission for England, an independent public body concerned with ensuring fairness in council, general and European elections, to see whether any changes to voting arrangements in South Holland.
A report for councillors at Wednesday's meeting said: "The Boundary Commission for England last completed a review on July 11, 2006.
"Whilst an initial review by officers of elector numbers to wards/ward members has not indicated any substantial inequality, given the time since the last review and the manifesto commitment, it is appropriate to consider whether a review should be conducted."
But with district council elections due in May, Crowland district councillor Bryan Alcock said: "It seems to me very late in the four-year cycle of the council to do this, effectively binding any new council coming in.
"Whilst I acknowledge it was a manifesto item for the Conservative group, it has been brought forward at the end of the present council's four-year cycle when it could have been introduced much earlier.
"Because it is so late, it binds the future council, although the result will not be known for some time.
"This may, or may not accord, with the prevailing council's policy.
"Also, the report itself stated that, at the moment, there are no discrepancies in terms of the number of electors represented by each councillor.
"Therefore, is the expense justified at this time."
During Wednesday's meeting, Coun Alcock also reminded members of past decision by the commission which he described as "classic mistakes".
Coun Alcock said: "The anomalies created by previous reviews do not give confidence that the outcome will be in the best interests of the district.
"The commission hasn't listened to our views and its recommendations have been adverse to the rural communities of South Holland.
"Deeping St Nicholas will never forgive the commission for taking away its member, despite the fact that the three Crowland members try to represent the village as well as we can.
"There's a threat of reorganisation and I see no reason to subject us to this.
"It would be better to delay this until the new adminstration comes in, although I believe the hope is that the review will reduce the number of councillors by increasing the number of electors per councillor, thereby creating single-member wards."
Coun Alcock highlighted "an internal examination of reducing the number of councillors some years ago which demonstrated that the rural areas lost out, whilst there was little effect on Spalding".
He added: "The other justification is an understandable aspiration to reduce cost.
"But unless the authority understands the likely effect of doing this, there is no way of knowing if savings would result as a smaller number of councillors may be paid more.
"There is also a question as to whether single-member wards would favour any particular sector of candidate and what effect that would have.
"Finally, a reorganisation of Lincolnshire councils has also been 'threatened' which again would result in another alteration of ward boundaries.
"Is it a waste of money to carry out a review before that issue is put to bed?"