Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 09.17.45Work is now underway to design the future shape of democracy in Newcastle as ward boundaries in the city are redrawn.

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is carrying out a review of Newcastle’s ward boundaries. Having reviewed the evidence on the need for effective democratic representation of the city, the Commission has announced today that this should be based on maintaining the existing number of Councillors: 78.

Although the Commission is not proposing a change in the number of Councillors, the new homes being built across the city, and changes in the student population, means that the existing boundaries need to be reviewed.

The next step is to ask local people for their help to draw up a new pattern of council wards in Newcastle so that they are in a better shape to reflect the city’s changing population.

The Commission’s consultation is open to everyone to have their say by 4 April 2016. Details of the review can be found at www.lgbce.org.uk where there is information about how to get involved and the kind of evidence the Commission is seeking to support their final decision.

The Commission’s consultation portal allows visitors to interact with online maps of the current wards, draw their own boundaries and feed views into the consultation process. The portal is available at www.consultation@lgbce.org.uk.

The Council will support the work of the Commission by consulting on its own detailed proposals. The proposal will be available on www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk from 4 February 2016 to 29 February. A number of drop-in events will be held across the city.

Cllr Chris Bartlett, Chair of the Council’s Constitutional Committee, said:

“We welcome the decision of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to retain the number of Councillors we currently have. Our councillors play a vital role in representing local communities. We have to make sure that there are enough elected councillors to represent local people effectively.”

“But even though the number of councillors will stay the same we know that the shape and size of council wards has to change because of housing developments and changes to the city’s population. This will have a big impact in the next few years.”

“We have to plan for the future or we will see electoral inequalities across the city with some wards that are too big and some that are too small. These are crucial decisions for democracy in Newcastle.”

“This consultation is open to everyone and I would urge people to have a look at the Commission’s website and have their say. As part of this process, the Council will consult on our own proposals early next month.”