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Evidence based electoral review

Exemplar Award Winner- Highly commended Services Award: Gedling Borough Council

One of the priorities after the 2011 Gedling Borough Council local elections was for the Council to reduce the number of members by 20%, in effect reducing the councillors from 50 to 40.

The council initiated an electoral review to consider the number of councillors representing the authority. The authority was divided into 22 wards returning between one and three councillors, and the aim of the review was also to recommend ward boundary changes that would result in each councillor representing approximately the same number of electors.

Furthermore, as it drew up new electoral arrangements, regard had to be given to the interests and identities of local communities.

How the project was carried out

The first part of the task was to identify all residential properties that were due to be built by 2018, as the project had to show elector numbers at this date. These were entered into the gazetteer management system as provisional properties and plotted where they were to be built.

A complete list of all residential properties with registered electors and the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) was then extracted from the Electoral Register. These were linked with an extract of the LLPG and then loaded into the council’s GIS system using the co-ordinates to plot each property on the base maps.

The proposed wards were drawn as polygons in GIS and the residential properties within the polygons were extracted so that there was a count of the number of existing properties. As elector numbers had been added to the residential properties, it also gave a count of the current number of electors.

The council came to the conclusion that simply counting the number of existing and proposed dwellings was not an option, as analysis had shown that the average number of electors per dwelling varies from 1.36 to 2.86 in polling districts. As such, a formula was applied that included the average number of electors per dwelling for the particular polling district in which the provisional dwelling was situated.

As a result, the project team were able to give the cross-party working group clearly defined maps showing existing and proposed ward boundaries, along with the number of electors for each proposed new ward.

Outcomes

The outcome was a proposal being sent to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE). The proposed wards followed community identity guidelines and were well within the recommended +/- 10% of the average number of electors for each member, and came with the support of all political parties.

The benefits are a final reduction in councillor numbers by 9 out of 50, which will see cost savings in the future through a reduction in the number of councillors receiving allowances.

It will increase the level of community identity, with the added advantage that shopping areas are proposed to be in single wards, whereas one is currently split across two, and another is in three wards.

The proposed wards will align with police priorities in that retail crime, car crime and serious acquisitive crime will be more rationally reported, whilst the project overall has demonstrated that the LLPG is a powerful tool for the authority.

Key benefits

• combines the Electoral Register with the LLPG, which can be replicated by other authorities for a variety of scenarios

• the process can be used to see whether addresses are in the correct current Polling Districts

• plans are in place to use the same process to identify areas where there are a large number of the most vulnerable in the borough using data from the benefits system and the Electoral Register

• it shows the value of matching the Electoral Register to the LLPG

• raised the awareness of the LLPG within the senior management team and amongst members

• puts the UPRN as the most valuable part of an address database and it shows the power of using BLPUs within GIS

• the project was completed on time and with zero budget

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