Friday, 29 January 2010

Carving up Anglesey

       Current Anglesey Electoral Divisions

The Boundaries Commission for Wales revealed their draft proposals this week for adjusting the council electoral boundaries in Anglesey.

Anglesey currently has an electorate of 50,793 persons and is divided into 40 wards, all of which return a single Councillor to represent them - meaning that currently each Anglesey Councillor represents an average of 1,270 persons. However, the Assembly Local Government minister, Brain Gibbons, has directed that the ideal in Wales should be to have a councillor to electorate ratio of no less than 1;1750 - a criteria which currently only four Anglesey electoral divisions meet (Cwm Cadnant, Llaneilian, Llanfair-yn-Neubwll and Treaddur). In fact, some electoral divisions currently have considerably less than 1000 electors:

Holyhead Town                    646 electors Labour
Rhosneigr                             748 electors Independent
Cadnant (Menai Bridge) 819 electors     Menai
Moelfre 860 electors Anglesey Forward
Tudur (Llangefni) 898 electors Independent
London Road (Holyhead)        900 electors Labour
Parc a'r Mynydd (Holyhead)    915 electors Independent
Morawelon (Holyhead) 937 electors Labour
Amlwch Rural 978 electors Anglesey Forward
Kingsland (Holyhead)             995 electors Labour

What becomes immediately apparent is that Holyhead - currently returning a total of seven Councillors - is grossly over-represented compared to the majority of the rest of the Island. For example the ward of Llaneilan (Lib Dem, but sits with Original Independents) has one councillor representing over 1,800 people -- three times as many people as in the ward of Holyhead Town which also has one councillor (Labour). There is obviously something wrong here.

The Boundaries Commission has recognised these problems and have therefore proposed to:

  • even out the councillor to electorate ratio throughout all wards on the island;
  • reduce the total number of Councillors from 40 to 35 so as to achieve an average councillor to electorate ratio of 1,450:1
Accordingly to do this they have fiddled with the boundaries of most electoral divisions to add or remove various wards so as to achieve the above average councillor to electorate ratio. For the problem areas of Holyhead and Menai Bridge they have made more serious changes:

  • The current electoral divisions of Holyhead Town, Porthyfelin and Parc a'r-Mynydd will be combined into a new electoral division called Holyhead Town containing 3,072 electors. This new division will be a be represented by two councillors.
  • The current Morawelon, London Road, Kingsland and Maeshyfryd divisions will also be combined into one new electoral division called Morawelon. This new division will be represented by three councillors.
  • The Braint and Cadnant wards will be combined to create one new electoral division called Braint. This new division will be represented by two councillors.
  • You can see the full details of all changes here

Of course, several councillors are up in arms at the proposal to reduce their number down to 35. However when you consider that seven councillors (i.e. 20% of the total) were returned unopposed at the last local elections in 2008, it seems to the Druid that reducing the number of Councillors will improve rather than harm democracy on Anglesey. Plus, as per my previous post, the Isle of Anglesey's Councillors need a good kick up the backside to focus their attention on addressing the serious problems we are currently facing - the Boundary Commission's report delivered just such a well aimed blow to their collective fattened rear-ends.


Dyfed said...

Reducing the number of councillors is a necessary step to sort out the mess that has been ACC. For such a small authority 40 is surely too many.
I think you'll find that the Llaneilian member is a Lib Dem.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

I entirely agree with you.

You are right that the Llaneilian member, Aled Morris Jones, is a Lib Dem but he sits with the Original Independents. I will add his party affiliation in the above post anyway for the sake of clarity.

Anonymous said...

Here's my suggestion: 25 councillors and one directly elected mayor.