Draft new council size recommendations approved
At yesterday's full council meeting (20 February), we approved the draft recommendations of our electoral review committee to increase the number of Wiltshire councillors from 98 to 99.
The draft recommendations will now be taken forward to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, which will analyse the submissions and, based on evidence from the recommendations and other sources, will take a ‘minded to' decision on the future council size.
It may decide to increase or decrease the total number of members elected to the council, but any changes would not take effect until the next full council election, in 2021.
The Boundary Commission is due to deliver its ‘minded to' decision in April, and the initial conclusions on the size and boundaries of divisions will be open for public consultation in May.
The review has been prompted by changes to the county's demographics; as the county population grows and new houses are built, many council divisions have become disproportionally larger or smaller than the others. In turn, the number of people a councillor represents may have changed, and it is intended that the review will address this.
Richard Clewer, cabinet member for corporate services and chair of the electoral review committee, said: "This decision was based on evidence gathered by the committee and focuses on the council's view that it is vital to maintain and support our community area boards.
"With 99 councillors, we will be able to ensure the continued effective operation of all of the area boards in Wiltshire. Any reduction in this number would put the future of some area boards at risk.
"Giving our communities a voice and role in delivering local services and shaping county-wide services is key to the delivery of local democracy and we see maintaining that into the future as vital."
To find out more about the proposed changes, including why the committee believes an increase to 99 councillors works best for involving the people of Wiltshire in the decision-making that affects them, read the full preliminary submission.