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Agenda item

Community Governance Review 2019-20

A report from the Director of Legal and Governance is attached.


To consider the Final Recommendations of the Electoral Review Committee for the Community Governance Review 2019-20 as follows:


The Chairman set out how the debate on the Final Recommendations of the Electoral Review Committee would be conducted. Following an introduction by the Chairman of the Electoral Review Committee each recommendation would be debated and voted upon in turn, and any public statements or questions taken under the relevant recommendation.


The Chairman also provided advice on the moving of any amendments, and confirmed that following guidance from the Monitoring Officer, the Council could only approve options which had been consulted upon. Any alternative options would need to be directed to be consulted upon before being determined at a later date.


The Chairman then invited Councillor Richard Clewer, Chairman of the Electoral Review Committee, to present the council report and the Final Recommendations of the Electoral Review Committee.


Councillor Clewer set out the background to the Community Governance Review 2019-20, which had commenced on 1 November 2019. This had followed publication of the Final Recommendations of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) for the Electoral Review of Wiltshire Council, which had amended the unitary Divisions for the council. This had also made consequential changes to many parishes, and received parliamentary approval in March 2020, to take effect at the next elections in May 2021.


The Electoral Review Committee had received requests for changes to parish boundaries and governance arrangements and determined which areas should be reviewed in advance of the May 2021 elections. It was noted some issues arising from the decisions of the LGBCE would need to be addressed after the elections.


The process for the Community Governance Review was detailed, which had included periods of information gathering and discussion with potentially affected parishes, a pre-consultation survey of potentially affected residents including some public meetings, and a statutory period of consultation on Draft Recommendations of the Committee, which was extended due to Covid-19 and included writing to residents involved. Following consideration of responses from parishes, partners and the public, the Committee produced its Final Recommendations.

Councillor Clewer thanked the Committee and supporting officers for their work, which had involved attending a great many meetings and sessions, and consideration of a significant amount of information and consultation responses. In particular, he thanked Councillor Gavin Grant, Vice-Chairman of the Committee, for his work throughout the process.


Councillor Clewer also highlighted that because some of the proposals involved areas which had seen consequential changes to parishes as a result of changes to unitary Divisions, consent would be required of the LGBCE should Council approve the recommendations. The Committee had noted issues regarding parish council warding arrangements, the need for appropriately sized and viable wards, and that where a parish was split between multiple Divisions that the parish was required to be warded. Therefore, some parishes had been been divided, and elements were included in a Division which might be considered of a different character, even if council did not approve the recommendations before it.


Councillor Clewer also confirmed that advice had been received clarifying that a Community Governance Review could transfer an area to another parish notwithstanding the existence or development of a Neighbourhood Plan, as further set out in the report.


Councillor Clewer then moved the proposed motion as set out in the report to approve each recommendation and delegate authority to the appropriate officers to enact any changes approved. Councillor Grant seconded the motion.


The Chairman provided the opportunity to Members of the Electoral Review Committee to comment on the process generally. Members commended the excellent leadership and hard work of Councillor Clewer as Chairman of the Committee, and noted the harmonious and successful operation of the Committee which involved all the political groups on the council. Those who had responded to the pre-consultation and consultation were thanked, and it was stated that the Committee had carefully considered all responses received in forming its recommendations. Officers were thanked for their work supporting the Committee, including Kieran Elliott, Senior Democratic Services Officer and Ian Gibbons, Director of Legal and Governance.


Group leaders were then given the opportunity to comment on the report and process generally.


Councillor Philip Whitehead thanked the Committee for their work on a very complex subject, and thanked Members and the public who had had input into the process. He emphasised that the Community Governance Review was not a political or executive matter, and he would not comment as group leader or Cabinet Member on any of the recommendations.


Councillor Ian Thorn also thanked the Committee and those who had contributed and looked forward to debate on each area.


Councillor Ernie Clark noted his own thanks for the level of work undertaken and confirmed he would not provide any further comment as a group leader.


Councillor Ian McLennan noted the inclusion of his group in the process through the Committee.


The Chairman therefore moved to consideration of the first recommendation of the Electoral Review Committee for the Community Governance Review 2019-20.


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