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December 21st, 2013 |

There’s Boundary Changes Coming….

As reported at Full District Council last week, there is going to be a review of all the council ward boundaries in our district, because Downhall and Rawreth , and Rochford wards have too many people, and Barling & Sutton, Grange and Trinity wards don’t have enough:

2.1 The Chair and Chief Executive of the Local Government Boundary
Commission for England (LGBCE) have met with the Leader of the Council
and the Chief Executive to discuss the high level timeline for the Electoral
Review.
2.2 The LGBCE have decided to undertake a review as 5 of the Council’s wards
have an electoral variance in excess of 10% from the average for the authority
(based on October 2012 data). There are:-
 Barling and Sutton, Grange and Trinity wards that are over-represented;
and
 Downhall and Rawreth and Rochford wards that are under-represented

2.4 The first key factor to determine will be:-
2.4.1 whether the Council retains the elections by third system, in which case the
presumption made by the LGBCE will for a uniform pattern of 3 member
wards, or
2.4.2 whether the Council opts for all-out elections every four years, in which case
the Council would be able to retain a selection of 1, 2 and 3 member wards.
2.5 Should the Council wish to move to all-out elections, the Council would need
to consult on the option. It would then have to pass a resolution at a Council
meeting specially convened for the purpose by a majority of two-thirds of the
Members voting on it. This work would need to be completed by March 2014
(see paragraph 2.6 below).
2.6 The next factor for the Council to consider will be the number of Members
necessary to carry out business effectively having regard to the Executive
decision – making arrangements, regulatory and scrutiny functions and the
representational role of Councillors, both in terms of ward work and
representing the Council on outside bodies. The LGBCE will expect the
Council to consider this not just in the context of the Council’s current
arrangements but also likely future trends or plans for five to ten years hence.
The Council will need to make a decision on this in March 2014 and will send
views to the LGBCE. The LGBCE have made the point that in any
submission, the arguments made must be evidence driven with a clear
rationale.

At the moment we have a few small wards with only one district councillor (such as Barling and Sutton). Most wards have two councillors (such as all the Rayleigh wards) There are also some larger, three-councillor wards (such as Hullbridge). In most years, one third of the council comes up for election. (the exceptions to this are years like 2013, when we had county council elections instead).

So it’s possible that we will see the whole of the district being in three-member wards, with every councillor being elected at the same time, once every four years. It’s also very likely that once district ward boundaries have been decided, the commission will then look at parish councils.

16 Responses to “There’s Boundary Changes Coming….”

  1. 1
    Jim Cripps:

    Obviously a long way from details as yet, need to watch the details as they emerge -
    as it could be a way of further tightening the grip of the large majority whip that seems to dictate the decision making. Or it could be an opportunity to gain more voting power for the current minority – an important one to keep track of I think!!!!!.

  2. 2
    John Mason:

    @ Jim Cripps

    With “All Out Elections” all majority administrations, whether with thick or thin majorities, run the risk of them losing control of a Council in one election.

    On the other hand “Elections By Thirds” may not generate that situation if there is a large majority as such an administration could survive by keeping control even if seats are lost in year 1 giving the opportunity for recovery in years 2 and 3.

    “All Out Elections” stretch even the large political parties far more than you might think and they prefer to fight by “Thirds” because all resources available can be directed to say just thirteen seats rather than 39.

    I think that I can see how this might go.

    Independents, whether in a Group or not, are unlikely to have a preference because the candidate does their own work anyway, often without a Controlling Election Agent, although personally I would like the major national parties to take a “political” risk of losing control at an “All Out Election”. It is more fun!!

    There will be an “All Out” in 2016 anyway.

  3. 3
    bruce smart:

    Will the review take into account developments in Hullbridge and rawreth areas. The report may be out of date within a few years if it doesnot.

  4. 4
    Chris Black:

    Bruce, yes the review will take future planned development into account!

    All out elections can produce big sudden swings in control. I think all out elections with 3 member wards favour the strongest party because:

    - they have the better organisation to fight everywhere at once.
    - weaker parties will certainly struggle to find , say, 39 candidates. And finding 39 good candidates is even harder.
    - at the moment if a keen opposition candidate has a go under the current system and fails, they have a chance again in a year or two. With allout elections they have to wait four years.
    - with 3 seats coming up at the same time in one ward, you would be at a grave disadvantage if you are a lone independent, or if your party only puts up 1 or 2 candidates.
    To expand on this – Suppose you have an election in a 3 member ward with 3 candidates from one party and a lone individual standing either for another party or as an independent. 500 voters like the loner and 400 like the party. You’d think the loner would get a seat? Actually he or she might not because everybody has 3 votes and most people like to use all 3 . So the 400 people who like the party give their 400 votes to each of the 3 party candidates. And the 500 people who like the loner give their votes to him or her. But then many of them will use their other two votes, and give them to two of the party candidates (probably the first two alphabetically) . If the loner does win, the candidate who misses out is the party candidate whose surname is last alphabetically.

    Having said all that, a small party or group of independents can definitely get 3 people elected if they target a ward properly.

  5. 5
    Jim Cripps:

    MMMM, never straight forward is it, and no doubt this will take ages to evolve – so
    Which of the current Council Seats / names are up for grabs in 2013 please?.
    Voters need to be asking them how they voted on the Mass Housing & Traveller Site.
    To be clear I am talking about Rayleigh/ Rawreth, thanks – JIM.

  6. 6
    Chris Black:

    Jim – Regarding Rayleigh and Rawreth district council elections- I think the following seats come up next year , in alphabetical order:

    Downhall and Rawreth (seat currently held by Chris Black, Liberal Democrat)
    Grange (currently held by Chris Lumley, Liberal Democrat),
    Rayleigh Central Ward (currently held by Pat Aves, Conservative)
    Trinity Ward (seat currently held by Jim Grey, Conservative)
    Wheatley Ward (seat currently held by Mavis Webster, Conservative)
    Whitehouse Ward (seat currently held by Robin Dray , Conservative – following a by-election last May, so he is quite recent)

    Bear in mind that some of the councillors may not be standing again.

    Regarding the allocations document and traveller site, the most relevant decision was the vote at Full Council in November 2012.
    You can download the minutes here – http://cmisrdc.rochford.gov.uk/cmis5/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/410/Meeting/4156/Committee/782/Default.aspx

    But they don’t tell you too much as the vote was passed on a show of hands, so there is no record of how everyone voted. Though I specifically asked for my vote to be recorded “AGAINST” , as councillors are allowed to do, and for that reason my vote against is recorded in the minutes.

    The meeting was covered at length on onlinefocus – http://onlinefocus.org/?p=11728 where we wrote that the Lib Dems present and the Greens voted against, all the Conservatives present voted for, except for Angela Hale who abstained. So we have:

    Chris Black voted against
    Chris Lumley was absent, (I think due to illness)
    Pat Aves was absent (I don’t know the reason)
    Jim Grey I believe voted for
    Mavis Webster I believe voted for
    Robin Dray wasn’t a district councillor then.

    The other two wards, Sweyne Park and Lodge, don’t come up next year.

  7. 7
    Jim Cripps:

    Thanks Chris, that’ll do me – yes I was in the Public Gallery for the Council vote on
    The ‘ interim report’ modification to Allocations Document, I know who voted what -
    My previous comment was designed for other voters to ask that question of candidates. Problem is that even if every Ward in Rayleigh was anything other than
    Conservative we still could’nt win a district vote against the whip ( 39 total votes I believe) – which is why we can’t influence decisions in our own back yard.- which is wrong. Happy New Year to you all……JIM.

  8. 8
    Chris Black:

    As it happens, I was talking to Chris Lumley this morning and he told me has was still “bubbling with anger” about the allocation of 550 (or more) houses , especially in relation to the drainage along London Road.

  9. 9
    Jim Cripps:

    And he is of course right, the Developers will only be interested in “on site” stuff, they will no doubt say that London Rd ( and Rawreth Lane) are Highway issues and not their responsibility. However …………
    The first impact will be their Construction traffic ( and muck all over the roads) which,
    Given simultaneous building of 500+ in Hullbridge , will impact traffic flows.
    At some point the Utility companies will turn up in order to connect the site supplies of
    Sewers / Water / Gas / Electric and Telephones to the existing mains in the roads – no
    Doubt digging up the same bits of road at different times. Now that is going to cause
    Havoc in a 2 lane road- but of course the Council & Highways will have thought of all that and made plans to pre-widen both roads to 4 lanes to avoid that , yeh right – I
    Don’t think so, we all know what will happen for several years.
    And these are issues we can think about even before the Inspector rubber stamps the Allocations Document, ready for the Developers ‘ consultation phase’.

  10. 10
    John Mason:

    Jim

    You highlight the continuous problems residents have experienced in my Ward of Hawkwell West with Barratts (and many more potential problems you have not referred to) which no Planning Conditions cover. And for those Planning Conditions that have been put in place and breached the District Council chooses not to Enforce but to exercise “Discretion” which is hardly surprising because RDC was in favour of development and will do whatever it can to facilitate and not hinder. Ward Members have no say what happens after Planning Approval has been given; just RDC Officers. All documented on our web site http://rochfordessex.com.

    Barratts have even put a Communications Consultant in place so that all complaints are dealt with by that firm, even for Ward Members !!

  11. 11
    A.mattbhews:

    Thanks for the warning John ,Jim is also spot on .Lip service is only given for local effects and existing Residents .If enforcement on conditions is not carried out then what is the point of conditions ? I am afraid that Councillors must have more courage in standing up for our residents against the weakness shown by our Officers .We will suffer years of congestion during construction let alone the congestion which will be permanent after completion !

  12. 12
    Jim Cripps:

    Yes – it has become increasingly obvious that decisions are taken despite the views of the electorate / residents ( which is perversely due to voter disenchantment with politicians = apathy) . That is why I am endeavouring to raise awareness ahead of the event , because I believe they ( Developers & Council) have never faced large scale objections ( thousands) coincident with local elections and the run up to a General Election – they normally simply call small groups NIMBY’s and ignore them.
    It can be done, the RAG team ,in just 5 weeks ,got 5000+ signatures from just West Rayleigh / Rawreth and 1000 people attended the Mill Hall protest meeting, limited only by capacity. That is enough to block a site entrance if they don’t listen to and implement adequate responses, because seemingly that is the sort of action that gets
    On the TV ( Fracking for example).6

  13. 13
    Brian Guyett:

    Strange isn’t it! The media this weekend are reporting on David Cameron’s somewhat panicked response to flooding, highlighting need for robust recovery plans. And here we are in Rochford debating plans to build more homes on a notorious flood prone area. I don’t view this a party political issue but just wonder why? why? why? Where has common sense gone or am I missing something?

  14. 14
    Brian Guyett:

    John Mason @ 10. It was exactly the same with Countryside in Etheldore Avenue, Hockley. It seems to me that Section 106 agreements are not worth the paper they are written on.

  15. 15
    Jim Cripps:

    Brian at # 13 – it is’nt only your point that defies logic, we are a skint as a country but iincrease our overseas aid budget by £3.7 billion ( to £12 billion) whilst cutting on our service sectors at home. We have conflicting unemployment / benefits issues but maintain an open door policy on immigration , the average man in the street could
    see all the issues with that 25>30 years ago.
    I say again , we need a ” British Spring” to force radical change in a system that is out of date and so easily manipulated to serve the vested interests that have always been there but have become emboldened by the lack of reaction ( apathy) and choice
    ie: so called main parties who are all but the same -just shades of blue.

  16. 16
    Michael Buzza:

    Couldn’t agree more with Jim. If awareness was raised about exactly what councillors/parties voted for and against we should see some rebalancing of the current Tory majority. Mass leafleting prior to elections providing transparency should do the job nicely.

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