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Boundary commission set to cut Birmingham councillors

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Birmingham’s vast electoral wards will be redrawn into smaller ones to reflect a cull of councillors, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England has said.

A review of governance was among recommendations from last year’s review by Lord Kerslake of the council’s functioning.

Birmingham has 120 councillors spread among 40 wards with an average electorate of 27,600 each, putting them among the country’s largest.

The commission said it expected to recommend only 100 councillors on a new pattern of wards with the number of councillors in each depending on local circumstances and the outcome of a consultation.

Commission chair Max Caller (pictured) said: “We have concluded that 100 councillors will help the council address the failings of the past, reflect the process of change which is already underway as well as helping councillors and staff to deliver its ambitions for the future.

“The Kerslake report highlighted how the council needs to change. In particular, it described how the current quantity of councillors, committees and decision making bodies had not always translated into a high quality of representation for local people or allowed the council to develop a vision for the future.”

The consultation runs until 28 September and the commission’s recommendations are due in December.

Council leader Sir Albert Bore (Lab) said: “Moving to all out elections and smaller wards with one or two councillors will be a big change from the system of local democracy we have become used to. It is important that the new boundaries reflect the local areas that people know.”

An improvement panel set up following the Kerslake review this week warned that Birmingham’ senior management remains “extremely stretched”, with councillors too focused on internal politics.

 

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Maths has never been my strong point, so perhaps somebody can explain how having smaller wards and less councillors, enhances democratic representation in Birmingham?
    120 councillors, covering 40 wards with an average population of 27,600 in each.
    40 x 27,600 = 1,104,000 electors / 120 = 9,200 per councillor
    Assuming that they are not intending to to cull any of the electorate during the councillor cull, 1,104,000/100 = 11,040 per councillor.
    I know it's not just a numbers games, but how does this help the democratic process in Birmingham? Is it time for Birmingham to go the way of London and break up into more manageable boroughs? Or is this the start of a national trend of fewer and fewer councillors, with remaining being full time, well remunerated - we don't get paid and now we don't get a pension - with the day of the part time, community minded, amateur councillor, consigned to history?

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  • Your rhetorical questions are entirely valid, but the starting point for your arithmetic is unfortunately wrong.

    I’m not sure offhand where the article’s 27,600 figure comes from, but it presumably refers to residents, not electors. The Boundary Commission’s published figure for Birmingham’s electorate when it started its review was 735,720. Divided by the current 40 wards gives an average of 6,131 electors per councillor – the Commission’s preferred figure – and 18,393 per 3-member ward, if you’re a councillor standing for election.

    100 councillors in single-member wards would have an average of 7,357 electors, or well over a third more than the next highest met district average (Leeds). The Commission’s own guidance, however, insists that all such cross-authority comparisons are an irrelevance to its deliberations.

    A table comparing all met district figures and commenting on the Commission’s anticipated recommendation can be found at http://inlogov.com/2015/07/09/is-a-120-member-council-really-too-big/.

    Chris Game (INLOGOV)

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