Coronavirus freezes county council election shake-up until 2025
PUBLISHED: 19:19 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 19:19 05 May 2020
Plans to redraw Norfolk’s map of electoral boundaries are set to be put off for a further five years due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A shake-up of the county council’s wards was under consultation when the pandemic struck and is now set to be implemented in 2025.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s review has been paused after the crisis put a stop to “effective consultation” and is currently expected to resume in July, meaning the map will not be redrawn before the 2021 elections.
In a statement, the commission said: “This review has been paused while we consider how to carry out effective consultations.
“Our current expectation is that the publication of the draft recommendations will be delayed until we can be confident that we can consult in ways that enable appropriate input from all local stakeholders. We do not anticipate that we will be able to do this before July 2020, and therefore expect that the implementation date will be 2025, not 2021.”
The review aimed to ensure all councillors represented a roughly equal number of voters and there were no plans to alter the number of councillors from 84.
Labour leader Steve Morphew said he was “disappointed” work on the proposals had been wasted.
“It was based around population numbers so the balance could look different in five years,” he said.
“We’re disappointed that all that work has gone to waste and that they’ll have to redo it before 2021.”
But he added the delay meant Norwich city council elections would coincide with the county council for the first time ever, and said: “It’s good that we can now focus on those elections in 2021. It’s going to create circumstances we’ve never seen before - we’re going to need to explain to voters exactly what they’re voting for.”
While Steffan Aquarone, Liberal Democrat group leader, said he welcomed the delay to the review.
He said: “I’m relieved because some of the proposals were going to carve up my community.
“That’s not just a matter of personal inconvenience. There is a huge variety of communities - town, country and coast - and to chop things up without regard to the differences would be wrong.”
A council spokesman said: “In view of the unprecedented demands that the coronavirus pandemic is placing on local government, the commission has temporarily paused its consultation on the reviews in Norfolk and elsewhere, while it considers next steps.
“The commission has informed us it is possible that this may lead to the implementation of any new boundaries being put back from 2021 to 2025 but we must stress that a final decision has not been taken yet.
“We will keep you informed when we receive more information from the commission.”
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