Friday, 5 December 2008

Draft boundaries published

The Boundary Committee has now published their draft boundaries for the new Cornwall Unitary Council. The Committee has accepted the case for 123 members of the new body and the first elections should be held in October.

This brings two thoughts:

First, in my view 123 is too many councillors. Each will represent an average of just 3,200 electors. I hardly wish to see wards of 18,000 plus as in Birmingham (albeit with three councillors for each ward), but I think the new Council could become unweildy with so many members. It will also be difficult for them to know what their role is. If there were just 80-90 (the old County Council has 82) then backbenchers could be effectively half-time. Many might event make it a full-time role. But with 123 members there can be no question of that.

Second - how has it come to pass that we should have to wait until October for the elections. This is six months after the scheduled date. It is bad enough that the May elections have been postponed until June, but to delay elections for six months seems totally wrong. I accept that, from where we are now, it might not be possible to hold elections for the new Council in June. But I want to know why this delay has happened and what is being done to make sure it cannot happen again.

There will be some consternation about the line drawing that has been done by the Boundary Committee. Whilst they have made the (quite reasonable) case that a ward in Bodmin should not consist of two areas of housing, unconnected by roads and with a massive hill in the middle, they have then proposed a similar set-up for a ward here in Launceston. I hope that they can be persuaded of a more reasonable case before the lines are inked in.

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