September 21 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 31, 2014
A review of more than 100 polling stations across Breckland will have to be carried out ahead of next year’s elections, after a new pattern of council wards was drawn up.
The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s final recommendations follow a 12-week public consultation and propose the district is represented by 49 councillors, five fewer than the current arrangements.
The recommendations also propose that those councillors should represent nine single-member wards, 14 two-member wards and four three-member wards across Breckland.
District council leader Michael Wassell, said that while he believes in democracy and equal representation, the timing of the changes could have been better.
“This wasn’t something we asked for,” he said. “The LGBCE have a rule where if one or more of the wards has a representation of more than 30pc, they do a review of the whole district. It means that all apart from a couple of wards have changed. It has taken a year and a lot of officer and member time.”
Mr Wassell added there was no funding for the changes, so they were being paid for by Breckland residents.
“Obviously, I believe in democracy and the wards should be more equal,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that it was done with less than a year to go until the elections. It means we are going to have to do a review of all the polling stations in the district, and there are more than 100 parishes.”
As well as the general election, there will also be district and parish elections taking place in some locations on the same day, which Mr Wassell said added to the workload.
The changes being recommended by the LGBCE, mean people in Breckland may have to vote at a different location and their district councillor may change.
Max Caller, chairman of the LGBCE, said: “Across the district, we have sought to balance the views expressed to us by local people with the criteria we must apply when we are deciding on new electoral arrangements. As such, we believe these recommendations deliver electoral equality for voters as well as reflecting the identities of communities across Breckland.”
A draft order, which brings the recommendations into force, will be laid in Parliament in the coming months.
The draft order means the changes will happen at the council elections in 2015.
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