|40 single member wards replaced with 30 multi-member wards, returning 30 councillors|
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The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales has released their "further review" (after their first effort was scrapped by the Minister) into carving up Ynys Môn — this time into eleven multi-member wards returning a total of 30 councillors. An illustration of how this will change Anglesey's council election map is above. The details are below:
|Detailed summary of the proposals|
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These proposals will lead to a reduction in the number of councillors from 40 to 30, resulting in a councillor to electorate ratio of 1:1,649 (up from the current 1:1,237). Considering that seven current councillors (20% of the total) were returned unopposed at the last local elections I am not against a reduction in numbers as this can only improve democracy on the Island, however I would note that a Local Authority of just 30 members would become very vulnerable to being rolled-up within a larger super-authority at some point in the future (e.g. Greater Gwynedd).
What does concern me greatly however is the fact that if these proposals are accepted in their entirety, then Ynys Môn will be the only Local Authority in Wales who's members will be entirely returned by multi-member wards. Why should this be so? Well, because in his direction to the LGBCW, the Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant specifically told them to do so:
|Carl Sargeant's specific directions to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales|
The charitable explanation would be to suppose that Carl Sargeant believes that introducing multi-member wards might help shake certain incumbents out of what could be termed 'rotten boroughs'. The more cynical explanation is to note the eerie similarity between the above direction to the LGBCW for Anglesey, and Welsh Labour's proposals to replace the current arrangements for electing Assembly Members throughout Wales with 30 two-member (i.e. multi-member) constituencies, with all AMs elected first-past-the-post. The Electoral Reform Society had this to say today of those proposals:
...under the system proposed by Labour, the party would have won 11 more seats - 41 instead of 30, giving Labour 70% of the Senedd on 42% of the vote.
Steve Brooks, Wales director of the Electoral Reform Society, said: "While this may be good news for aspiring Labour candidates, it's bad news for Welsh voters.
"Two member first-fast-the-post would rob thousands of voters of a choice and voice."
He said the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats would have less than a third of seats, despite getting more than half the votes in May.
"That would be damaging for democracy and damaging for devolution"
Anyway, the full report from the Local Government Boundary Commission is below. Members of the public have up until January 3rd to have their say, and can do so by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: John Dixon, respected former Chair of Plaid Cymru, has just written the following regarding Carl Sargeant's decision to force an entirely new and different electoral system on just Ynys Môn:
"But is it right to have a different approach in one council area from that being implemente deverywhere else, where the main reason for that difference appears to be to facilitate the election of different people? There is no doubt in my mind that the Minister has acted in accordance with the powers conferred upon him, because those powers don’t seem to require that he provides any reason or argument for adopting a different approach in one area, or place any constraints on what considerations he might apply.
And that’s where my concern lies. There is a dangerous precedent here, under which the Minister has directly interfered in the work of the boundary commission to instruct them to take a particular approach in Ynys Môn,largely because he doesn’t like the result of the elections there. I don’t like them either – but I’m simply not convinced that rigging the electoral system is the right way to deal with that problem. "
Isle of Anglesey Further Draft Proposals e