Council consults on proposed boundary review map
11 February 2014
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Local people from across the Borough are being encouraged to have their say on a draft new Borough Ward map prepared by Woking Borough Council before it is officially submitted to the Boundary Commission at the end of March.
In 2016, the Council will reduce from 36 elected members to 30 in ten wards to make local elections fairer and more balanced by ensuring councillors represent a similar number of people and that the Council has the appropriate number of councillors to represent the ward effectively.
Cllr John Kingsbury, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: "Before the Council submits its preferred ward boundary proposal to the Boundary Commission, we are keen to hear the views of local people. By proposing these changes to the ward boundaries, we aim to create a fairer, more balanced Council that will meet the ever-changing needs of its constituents now and in the future. Therefore, I would encourage everyone to attend one of the planned events to make their views known and help shape the future of our Borough."
A public meeting, hosted by the Leader of the Council, will be held at 7pm, Tuesday 18 February 2014, in the Council Chamber and webcast live. Members of the public can raise questions about the proposals. The plans will also be on display between 6pm and 7pm and officers will be on hand to answer any questions.
Officers will also display the proposals, answer questions and invite local people to submit their comments at the following Centres for the Community:
10am to 2pm, Friday 14 February - The Vyne, Broadway, Knaphill GU21 2SP
11am to 3pm, Monday 17 February - St Mary's, Stream Close, Byfleet KT14 7LZ
11am to 3pm, Thursday 20 February - Parkview, Off Blackmore Crescent, Sheerwater GU21 5NZ
11am to 3pm, Friday 21 February - Moorcroft, Old School Place, Westfield GU22 9LY
A full display of the proposals are set out in Mercia Walk, the route from Jubilee Square to Commercial Way. Information is also located in the Peacocks and Wolsey Place Shopping Centres, as well as the Civic Offices.
To have your say on Woking Borough Council's proposals, please visit one of the local events and complete a feedback form or the dedicated webpage. All comments must be received by Friday 7 March 2014.
Responses received to the proposals will help shape the Council's final submission to the Boundary Commission at the end of March.
Local people may also continue to submit their views to the Boundary Commission before the consultation closes on Tuesday 1 April.
Why are the boundaries being reviewed?
Boundary reviews are held regularly to ensure that the ratio between the number of electors and the number of Councillors remains comparable across the Borough. The balance can be affected by a large new housing development or simply by population growth patterns. Reviews are undertaken every 15 years or so.
Why is Woking Borough Council consulting?
Woking Borough Council is keen to find out your views on the draft proposals it has drawn up. There may be points that the Council has not taken into consideration which can be addressed before the final proposal is submitted to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) at the end of March 2014.
How did the Council draw up its draft warding pattern proposal?
The Council appointed a cross-party Task Group of Councillors charged with developing a proposal on behalf of the Council. The Task Group was established at the beginning of the Boundary Review process in early 2013 and drew up the draft proposal in line with the Boundary Commission's guidance.
Who will decide the shapes and names of the wards?
The Boundary Commission is responsible for drawing up proposals based on the responses it receives in the current consultation exercise. The Commission will undertake a further consultation between July and October 2014 before making its final recommendations to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in 2015.Resident can suggest Ward names, but the final decision will be made by the Boundary Commission.
Why is the number of Councillors changing?
The first stage of the review of the Borough's boundaries was to look at the existing number of Councillors and the Council was invited by the LGBCE to put forward a proposal.
Following a lengthy review, the Council submitted a recommendation that the number of Councillors should be reduced by six to 30. In reaching this proposal, the Council took into account the changing nature of the Council and the ways in which residents engaged with the Councillors and accessed information.
The LGBCE consulted the public on the proposal during October and November 2013 and published its findings earlier in January 2014. For the purposes of the review, the Commission chose to adopt the Council's proposal.
Details of the Council size review are available on the Commission's website (www.lgbce.org.uk).
How many Councillors will represent each Ward?
Under the guidelines by the Boundary Commission relating to authorities which have elections by-thirds, each new ward will be represented by three Councillors unless in exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.
This is to ensure that every voter in the Borough, regardless of which ward they live in, will have the opportunity to vote in a Borough election three out of every four years. At present, voters in the smaller wards, such as Brookwood and Old Woking, only have one opportunity to vote in a Borough election every four years, whilst those living in the larger wards have up to three opportunities.
What are elections by thirds?
At present, elections are held for 12 seats (of the 36 in the Borough) each year for three successive years out of four. As each ward has between one and three Councillors, voters currently go to the polls between once and three times over a 4 year period to elect Councillors for their ward.
Why is Woking changing to 10 Wards?
The number of Wards that can be considered is limited by the Commission's guidelines which specify that, in areas where elections are held by-thirds, each ward must have three Councillors to ensure equality of voting across the Borough. Taking into account the adopted figure of 30 Councillors, the review is limited to considering a ten ward pattern for the Borough, unless exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated to warrant an exception.
Why does each Ward have to have the same number of voters?
The objective of the review is to ensure that Councillors represent a broadly comparable number of voters. The review will look at the ratio between the number of voters and the number of Councillors based on the predicted population levels for 2019.
The Commission will expect any proposals to ensure that no ward varies more than 10% from the average voter population across the ten wards.
Why has my ward disappeared?
The Commission is consulting on the assumption that the Borough will be divided into ten electoral wards, each with a similar number of electors based on voter projections for 2019. It is therefore not possible to retain existing ward boundaries.
The Council, in drawing up its response to the consultation, has sought to ensure that the new wards reflect community identity whilst fulfilling other criteria such as ease of movement and physical boundaries.
Is the shape of Woking changing?
No. The Borough's boundary will not be affected by the Review, only the boundaries of the electoral wards.
How will the new wards affect me?
For many residents, the changes will mean that their area is represented by more Councillors and that they have the opportunity to vote more often. The new arrangements may also mean that local polling stations will change.
The new wards will take effect from May 2016, when all seats on the Council will be up for election. In the months leading up to the elections, the Council will write to every household advising them of any changes to their local polling station, as well as providing information on the elections.