Adverse Election Boundary changes proposed – last chance to respond

Adverse Election Boundary changes are proposed which threaten community, your representation and “Council effectiveness” You have a chance to respond to the Boundary Commission by 7 May 2018.


Boundary Commission’s Timetable for Consultation and Change

Prompted by our Council leaders, the Boundary Commission is set to dramatically change voting boundaries for the “up and coming” 2019 elections, and reduce the number of Councillors doing the work of representing you and checking Council operations and proposals.

You have one last chance to have your say to the Commission by 7 May 2018 and, prevent a further reduction in democracy, representation and, decision making/governance in our Borough.

 

More on what this means and, how to respond below.

 

Summary

  • RBWM prompted the Boundary Commission to dramatically change the number of councillors (-25%) and voting boundaries
  • The proposals affect Windsor and Windsorians particularly badly
  • The proposals seek to;
    • Redraw boundaries, which will split up communities and create major anomalies for Windsor e.g.
      • Windsor Town Centre to be amalgamated with Eton
      • Combermere Barracks and Windsor Town FC to move to Old Windsor
      • Dedworth to be split in two and joined with St. Leonards Hill
      • Illogically allocate portions of Windsor to Eton Town Council, Bray Parish and Old Windsor Parish – this could frustrate attempts by Windsorians to set up a much needed Windsor Town Council to improve governance.
    • Massively reduce the number of Councillors (25%) able to represent you and, read reports/proposals and check what the Council is doing
    • Increase the workload of councillors to make the role possibly untenable for Independents, who have no back up, and any Councillor who is diligent (reading and acting upon committee reports,  Council reports (the full span), case work, and background development & research)
  • The proposal seems to violate the Boundary Commissions own principles to
    • Equal numbers of voters per councilor
    • Reflecting the interests and identities of local communities
    • Promoting effective and convenient local government
  • The changes are set to be implemented in July 2018 in time for the May 2019 elections
  • You have one last chance, before 7 May 2018, to make your comments and express your concerns – information on how to respond below.

 

Boundary Commission Annotated Proposed Windsor Ward Map 2018

The Boundary Commission reports

Click on the link to read the current draft recommendations which, if unopposed by you and I, are set for implementation later this year in time for the May 2019 Local Elections;

 

 

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Cllr Da Costa’s Comments on the adverse election boundary changes proposed

For me, the fundamental or fatal error in the Boundary Commission’s work is their proposal that the number of Councillors is reduced from 57 to 42.

The consequences of what is effectively an ill considered proposal are a flurry of flaws, the cumulative effects of which will be to reduce representation of communities and groups, and overwork councillors to the extent that effective scrutiny of an increasingly complex RBWM organistion is likely to all but evaporate. Democracy will become shallower and good, people centred governance will diminish. In other words, it fails to serve people well

Here are the issues in detail;

  1. Wards do not mark out the distinctly different communities such Dedworth, Clewer, St. Leonard’s Hill, which they could have with some thought and desire
  2. Wards will be chopped up and broken up communities squeezed together with other distinctly different communities
    • Windsor Town Centre to be amalgamated with Eton
    • Combermere Barracks and Windsor Town FC to move to Old Windsor
    • Dedworth to be split in two and joined with St. Leonards Hill
    • Illogically allocate portions of Windsor to Eton Town Council, Bray Parish and Old Windsor Parish – this could frustrate attempts by Windsorians to set up a much needed Windsor Town Council to improve governance.
  3. In the proposed Clewer & Dedworth East, any Councillors resident in the more affluent St. Leonard’s Hill are less likely to understand, or care for the needs of residents from the more populated area of Dedworth; it would have made more sense to group St. Leonard’s Hill with Clewer Village, broadly along the lines of the St. Andrew’s parish boundary
  4. Independent Councillors, local people like you and me who come from your area (and understand you), are less likely to be elected, as the Tory machine will be able to flood areas with shipped in personnel when canvassing but ordinary folk don’t have access to such such resources.
  5. Councillors will be overworked as they will represent far more people so, less likely to be able respond to requests for help
  6. As the same amount of work gets divvied out amongst fewer people, Councillors will have to do more, more to read, more complex issues to understand as RBWM continues to evolve rapidly – in other words, work won’t get done and, potentially dangerous issues will be missed – it seems apparent that some Councillors even today do not read their reports or attend meetings – and many Councillors have day time jobs.
  7. Overworked Councillors will be easier to control by central leadership, if off course the work party are minded to do so
  8. In short, governance of our Royal Borough will deteriorate further, hard to imagine as that is by some.

I would urge residents to stand up and let the Boundary Commission know of their concerns about reduced representation by overworked and unrepresentative Councillors, caused by the proposed drastic reduction in the number of Councillors and bizarre boundaries, before the Consultation ends on 7 May 2018.

 

More information on the detail of the process below.

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How you can have your say

  1. Read the report and review the maps – see links above
  2. Read my comments in the grey box above;
    1. Copy and use what you wish to
    2. I will post my detailed submission in the next two weeks – come back soon
  3. Respond to the Boundary Commission by 7 May 2018;
    1. Online at https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/10380
    2. By email to reviews@lgbce.org.uk
    3. In writing to: The Review Officer (Windsor and Maidenhead), Local Government Boundary Commission for England,14th Floor Millbank Tower, Millbank,London, SW1P 4QP

 

Click to download your copy of the full report & recommendations

More information on the detail of the process

Background

On 27 September 2016, Council Leader Simon Dudley initiated a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (to give it it’s full title [Boundary Commission]) of the number of Councillors, and so by due process the ward boundaries, in his words, in order to;

  • “place RBWM on a more comparable basis to our neighbours and”
  • “reduce the cost to taxpayers of local politicians as part of the drive for efficiencies within RBWM

Click on the link to;

Comment:

  • A false economy (the savings for 14 Councillors of around £115K per anum, or 0.13% of the £90m annual Council spend), and
  • No mention here about good governance (making good decisions and preventing bad decisions), strengthening scrutiny, or reinforcing representation of people or localism (empowering people to take control).
  • Perhaps something of a red herring for an unspoken intention?

 

The Boundary Commission’s Initial Consultation

As reported in my Blog Article,”Concerns about Council plans to redraw boundaries in Windsor – Blog” The Boundary Commission called for Local Residents, businesses and Council to comment on Warding Arrangements between 26 September 2017 and 4 December 2017.

 

NB Click here to read my submission to the Boundary Commission to protect the residents of Dedworth the Clewers and, indeed, the Borough – “Striving to improve democracy for residents – blog

 

Click to download the Boundary Commission’s 2 Page Summary

RBWM’s proposal

RBWM’s proposal, initiated on 27 September 2016, contained proposals to drastically reduce the number of Councillors from 57 to 43. The immediate consequence of this is to require the ward boundaries to be redrawn , community representation to change and, Councillor workload (our ability to help people) to increase dramatically.

RBWM’s prompting led to the Boundary Commission holding an initial consultation calling for evidence from residents, businesses and, the Council, which ended on 4 December 2017.

Click here to read the submissions from;

Boundary Commission’s Three Key principles (or so they say)

The Boundary Commission states that key issues to consider are;

  1. Delivering electoral equality for local voters
    1. This means ensuring that each local councillor represents roughly the same number of people so that the value of your vote is the same regardless of where you live in the local authority area.
    2. In other words, the same number of voters per councilor irrespective of the needs of an area
    3. A/B = C i.e. Like a baby face assassin, simple but with deadly effects
  2. Reflecting the interests and identities of local communities
    1. This means establishing electoral arrangements which, as far as possible, maintain local ties and where boundaries are easily identifiable.
  3. Promoting effective and convenient local government
    1. This means ensuring that the new wards or electoral divisions can be represented effectively by their elected representative(s) and that the new electoral arrangements as a whole allow the local authority to conduct its business effectively.
    2. In addition, we must also ensure that the pattern of wards reflects the electoral cycle of the council as shown below…

The Boundary Commission’s INITIAL proposal (draft recommendations)

Following the call for evidence, the Boundary Commission have produced a proposal which seeks to;

  • further reduce the number of Councillors (to 42 from 57) and so,
  • smash communities by dramatically redrawing ward boundaries,
  • reduce representation for people (fewer people from your community) and,
  • dramatically increase Councillor workload – who would want to do the job or have the time to do it effectively?

Have your say to help avoid disastrous changes

Closing

Sadly, as noted at the start to the article, the Boundary Commission’s own proposals are substantially worse that RBWM’s and, they seem to ignore their own guiding principles of (paraphrase) numerical equality, fostering community integrity and, facilitating good governance.

Let’s not let them further erode our quality of life by disrupting communities and creating the mechanisms to exacerbate bad decision making and reduce representation of residents (you).

Please respond to the Boundary Commission before the deadline ends on 7 May 2018.

 

I hope you found this useful and insightful.

Perhaps you agree with my points.

 

Let’s keep working together to put people first; justice and democracy for all.

 

Accountably yours,

Wisdom

WWRA Councillor, Wisdom Da Costa, Clewer North, Windsor

 

 

Caveat

This post is part of Cllr Wisdom Da Costa’s regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as he promised in his election leaflet

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).