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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 05/09/2006
FRENSHAM PARISH COUNCIL - REQUEST FOR AN ADDITIONAL COUNCILLOR



Summary & Purpose
This report submits a request from Frensham Parish Council that the Borough Council carries out a review to increase the number of Parish Council Members for the Rushmoor ward of the Frensham Parish from three to four councillors.

APPENDIX H
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE - 5TH SEPTEMBER 2006

Title:
FRENSHAM PARISH COUNCIL - REQUEST FOR AN ADDITIONAL COUNCILLOR
[Wards Affected: Frensham, Dockenfield and Tilford]
_________________________________________________________________________
Summary and purpose:

This report submits a request from Frensham Parish Council that the Borough Council carries out a review to increase the number of Parish Council Members for the Rushmoor ward of the Frensham Parish from three to four councillors.

There are some resource implications in terms of staffing, which could be met from within existing budgets.

Environmental implications:

There are no direct environmental implications that are associated with the report.

Social / community implications:

Frensham Parish Council has suggested that there will be a better equality of representation on the Parish Council if the number of members for the Rushmoor ward is increased, and that this will help both the representative role of the Parish Council and help involve more people in local democracy.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications associated with this report.

Resource and legal implications:

There will be some resource implications in terms of staffing and advertising the proposal, which might be accommodated within the existing budget for elections and electoral registration.

Background

1. The Local Government Commission carried out a major review of Borough and Parish Council boundaries and representation which reported finally in September 1998. At the time, the Frensham Parish consisted of three wards, the Churt ward, the Rushmoor ward and the Frensham ward. No changes were proposed at the time for any of Frensham Parish. The final proposals could not be implemented in time for the May 1999 elections, but had to wait until May 2003.

2. Subsequently in 2001, a request was received from Frensham Parish Council that Waverley Borough Council should carry out a Parish review to see if a new Parish Council should be set up for Churt village. This left Frensham Parish consisting of two wards, Rushmoor and Frensham. This was agreed and established in 2002 and the first elections for the new Parish were held in May 2003. Frensham Parish was unchanged, with two members for the Rushmoor ward and four members for the Frensham ward.

Current Request from Parish Council

3. The Frensham Parish Council has now proposed that Waverley carries out a further review to increase the number of members for the Rushmoor ward of Frensham Parish Council from two to three. Frensham ward would continue as now with four members. A table showing the electorates is attached as Annexe 1.

4. The Borough Council has the power to carry out this review but, because the Parish was split by Waverley's review in 2003, Waverley needs to obtain the consent of the Electoral Commission to implement any changes under an Order under Section 17(2) of the Local Government Act 1997. Any changes proposed within five years of a previous review of a Parish need this consent.

Process

5. There is no detailed process set out in regulations or guidance for this type of limited electoral review, but the Electoral Commission has said that the issues that the Borough Council should consider as part of the review are:-

Parish Council Requests

6. The Parish Council has asked Waverley only to look at the narrow issue of the numbers of Councillors for the existing warding structure and for the Rushmoor ward only. The other issues would be considered as part of any overall review, but it would be intended to focus only on this main issue.

Public Consultation

7. The Council would have to show evidence that it had sought to canvass public opinion, not only via the Parish Council but also from electors within the whole Parish area. It could do this by means of advertisement in the press and by encouraging the Parish Council to publicise the review and by use of notices on Parish notice boards.


Timescale for the Review

8. Officers have written to the Electoral Commission explaining the position and asking if it is likely that the Electoral Commission would be able to grant consent in time for the Parish elections planned for May 2007. The Electoral Commission have said that it would do its best, but it is still working through a backlog of previous Parish Council reviews and cannot give any guarantees.

9. If Waverley were to commence the review soon, any final decision on the review could be made by the Council Meeting in December 2006 and the request for consent submitted immediately. This would, however, leave the Commission, in practice, only two months to be able to give the necessary consent and enable Waverley to make an order and have the arrangements in place for the Parish electoral process for May 2007.

Resource Implications

10. There would be staffing implications in terms of members of staff arranging for publicity in considering any representations from residents in the Parish. However, it is hoped that this can be contained within the existing budgets and that advertising costs could similarly be contained within the existing budgets for elections and electoral registration.

Officer Recommendation

11. Officers feel the review could be carried out fairly speedily, but are unsure because of the pressures on the Electoral Commission if any such review could be implemented in time for the May 2007 elections. If not, then the next opportunity to implement the proposed additional membership for the Rushmoor ward would be the May 2011 Parish elections.

Recommendation

The Executive is recommended to consider the implications of the request and decide if it wishes to recommend to the Council to instruct the officers to:-

1. begin the process of a review of the Frensham Parish Council now or

Background Papers (MD)

Letters from the Electoral Commission dated 2nd August 2006 and 4th August 2006.
E-mails from Frensham Parish of 20th July 2006.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 532222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk


comms/executive/2006-2007/113 49419