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26.8.08

82 Councillors

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has condemned the announcement from the Boundary Committee for England that it will “not be able to complete the work” necessary to create new seats for elections to the new unitary council by May or June 2009 and that the elections will have to proceed on the basis of 82 Councillors for the new authority with the same electoral divisions as the current County Council.

Party Leader Cllr Dick Cole described these latest developments as an “embarrassing and undemocratic mess.” The Boundary Committee have however stated that it is minded to accept the number of 123 councillors for the new unitary authority and will begin a 12-week consultation in November. The Electoral Commission could decide to bring their proposals into effect before the end of the normal four year cycle, which would mean further elections, or alternatively the whole of Cornwall will have to make do with just 82 councillors for the next four years.

The paperwork from the Boundary Committee also stated that their Director Archie Gall spoke to the One Cornwall Implementation Executive on 11 July and warned them that “there was just an outside possibility that any changes could be implemented by June 2009, if the Government decided that local elections were to be combined with elections to the European Parliament.” His letter implied that the Implementation Executive did not succeed in providing "a fully worked up and evidenced electoral scheme for new electoral divisions based on that council size (i.e. 123).”

Cllr Cole said:

“The Boundary Committee for England says that it cannot find the time to carry out the electoral review and yet does not intend to start the consultation on the proposal for a 123 member council until November. This is unacceptable. They just need to get on with the review and stop prevaricating!

“The proposals for the new council include twenty area networks which respect the boundaries of the proposed electoral divisions. If elections are held on the County Council’s old divisions, it will completely undermine the local arrangements for the new council.

“It is ridiculous to expect local people to take part in a consultation on a 123 member council, only for them to have to vote for new councillors on different boundaries.”

Looking ahead to the future, Cllr Dick Cole added:

Mebyon Kernow has never been in favour of the Liberal Democrat’s unitary council experiment. The arrangements are now descending into farce and we would hope that central government will admit that it has got it wrong and pull the plug on the whole debacle.

“If they are unwilling to do this, central government needs to ensure that the electoral review is speeded up and, if necessary, the existence of Cornwall County Council and the district councils is extended for three-four months until the democratic arrangements are in place for the new council.”

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall will also be writing to John Healey, Minister for Local Government, and Sir Archie Gall, Director of the Boundary Committee for England.

CONTACT Cllr Dick Cole 07791 876607

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