The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is seeking the views of local people on what they want from their own wards.
What’s it all about?
In three years, in 2018, if all goes to plan, we shall be electing our City Councillors in a new way. The responsible authorities are going to decide the details of these changes over the coming months – and now is the time when we, as residents, can influence their decisions.
Instead of having three councillors for each ward, there will be just one or two; in specially justified cases there may be three. The City Council will be formed of 100 councillors so that, arithmetically, there will be a greater number of wards (between 50 and 80), individually smaller than the current ones. Furthermore, each councillor will sit for 4 years and the council elections will be held every four years.
There are many implications in these changes, which are coming about because central government insisted on a total review of local governance in Birmingham – the Kerslake review.
Under consultation is: Your ward – how big, how many councillors (1 or 2) and containing which localities.
*(Website Administrator advice: Using the link in clicking Have your say above you can expand the displayed map using the + ikon then draw lines around the area you think should be your ward using the map tools. You can then add your comments below the map, and submit your views.)
Some help to focus your thinking
To help you think through the consequences of these proposals, the Neighbourhood Forum has raised a number of questions. They are listed below. With each question we have added issues which seem to us to be pertinent; and you will undoubtedly have others.
If sufficient people respond, and give their permission, we will submit a collective response on behalf of city centre residents.
But you do not need to wait if you feel sufficiently strongly about any of these issues. Respond direct to the LGBCE using the Have your say link mentioned above.
Do I prefer to have a single councillor responsible for my area or do I prefer two?
Having two councillors gives us a choice; we may have had better experience of one over the other. But it may also cause confusion – Which one should I call to address my problem?
One councillor removes the potential confusion but, if he/she proves unsatisfactory, we would have no option but to call on the services of another Ward’s councillor.
Am I happy with all-out elections every four years?
This method lessens the chance of rolling domination by one party, but replaces it with the shock of more total change of administration.
Is a single councillor ward too small or just right for the city centre area?
A single councillor ward will be, on average, about one-third the size of current wards. You might feel closer to a single councillor, therefore feel him/her to more be involved with your concerns.
On the other hand, a single-councillor ward speaking on behalf of perhaps 8000 residents might have less clout in Council than two-councillor wards representing twice the population – assuming both Councillors agree!
What would you regard as the appropriate area for a city centre ward?
The city centre is the primary focus for Birmingham’s tourist appeal and for its commercial and retail business activities. Does this give sufficient coherence to justify its selection as an individual ward? Or is that irrelevant?
Should the new ward(s) be contained within one parliamentary constituency or divided between two or more constituencies?
Should the local ward changes wait until the parliamentary boundaries are set, so that the two systems can be designed appropriately?
These questions arise because there is very likely to be a Boundary Commission review of parliamentary constituencies in the next few years, though the timing is not known for certain.
There can be significant complications if local authority wards boundaries cross parliamentary constituency boundaries. But do these matter to me?
Photography and Editing by Geoff Caine, Website Administrator
Your thoughts, opinions and ideas
The Committee have important contacts who could influence the outcome of this change.
Your direct input (see Have your say above) is comprehensive and therefore inevitably complicated!
So, for the time being, it would be useful to get some ideas from you from which the Committee can construct a questionnaire for this website and use the statistics from this to substantiate their feedback to their contacts.
So please add comments below…to help in this questionnaire.
If you do not want your identity shown in this article, send an email to the Committee and your identity will not be disclosed unless you state that you are happy to reveal it.