Major changes to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, scheduled for next year, are being delayed after an administrative error by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England during the consultation on new wards.
The number of councillors was set to reduce from 60 to 54 after redrawing the ward boundaries as part of the commission’s electoral review of the borough. This would have meant all-out council elections in May 2019.
As part of this review, residents were invited to have their say on what the new ward boundaries should look like through a series of public consultations.
But the commission has now announced that: “Shortly before the scheduled publication of its final recommendations, the commission became aware that, due an administrative error, two submissions made during public consultation had not been made available to it during its consideration of final proposals. Given the importance of considering every local voice fairly and equally, the commission has decided to take a fresh look at every submission made during public consultation on the review. After taking into account all the submissions, the commission will decide the final recommendations.”
The commission has decided to delay the publication of final recommendations for new electoral arrangements for Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council until 5 March 2019, with the new ward boundaries now set to come into effect at all-out elections in May 2020.
This means that voters will be going to the polls in May next year only for the wards that would have been up for election under the current ‘thirds’ cycle, where 20 councillors are elected a year over three years. These wards are: Basing; Baughurst and Tadley North; Bramley and Sherfield; Brighton Hill North; Burghclere, Highclere and St Mary Bourne; Chineham; Eastrop; Grove; Hatch Warren and Beggarwood; Kempshott; Kingsclere; Norden; Oakley and North Waltham; Overton, Laverstoke and Steventon; Pamber and Silchester; South Ham; Tadley Central; Tadley South; Upton Grey and The Candovers and Winklebury.
Returning Officer for elections at the borough council Mel Barrett said: “As a result of the announcement by the commission, the borough will not be holding an all-out election in May 2019 and will revert to the scheduled cycle of elections for one third of the council next year. We prepared for new wards to come into effect in 2019. However, we have also been planning in parallel in case it was not possible for the Parliamentary order to be made in time to hold the all-out elections, so we are fully prepared for next May.”