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Shake-up could see number of county councillors in Norfolk reduced

PUBLISHED: 14:38 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:08 16 July 2019

A shake-up could change how many councillors represent Norfolk at County Hall in the 2021 elections. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

A shake-up could change how many councillors represent Norfolk at County Hall in the 2021 elections. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Archant

A shake-up could see the number of county councillors who represent people in Norfolk cut when the county next goes to the polls, but County Hall leaders are looking to resist any reduction.

The Local Government Boundary Commission says a review of the council's electoral arrangements is needed because of what they described as "electoral imbalance in Norfolk divisions".

The county council has to make its own submission on the issue, including a proposal on the number of county councillors it feels would best represent people in the county.

That submission has to be in by next month and, at a meeting of the full council next week, councillors will be asked to agree the number of councillors should remain at the current 84.

A working group has been considering the issue and leader Andrew Proctor is in no doubt that 84 councillors, each covering a single division, is the best approach.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

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He has proposed a motion that the council writes to the boundary commission stating its strong desire to retain single member divisions and not switch to having multi-member divisions.

Mr Proctor said: "We are hoping that the case we are putting forward is good enough that the commission supports retaining 84 single member divisions."

The report by officers states: "Whilst the commission is concerned with electorate, in a large rural county, we contend that the population is an important factor in determining the appropriate number of councillors, as this determines the demands on elected members, not just electors."

Ed Maxfield, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, agreed. He said: "If the number of councillors is reduced, rural areas in particular will find it even harder to get their voice heard."

Once the submission is lodged, the commission will decide whether to accept that or say there should be more or fewer councillors. Detailed maps of the electoral divisions will then have to be drawn up by the council.

Following consideration and public consultation, the commission would then decide on the final recommendations in July next year and, once formal orders are laid, new arrangements would come into place for elections in May 2021.

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