The size of the Vale of Glamorgan Council would be increased from the current 47 members to 51 members under proposals being tabled by the Boundary Commission for Wales.
Penarth Town councillors discussed the proposed enlargement of the Vale Council in last night’s meeting of the policy and finance committee
The Boundary Commission has come up with a new yardstick to take account of the increasing population in the 22 local authority areas of Wales and arrive at the number of additional councillors required in each area – including the Vale of Glamorgan . [Downloadable on http://gov.wales/docs/lgbcw/publications/161110councilsizeen.pdf ]
- The Vale of Glamorgan Council is rated as a “Category 3” authority (Cardiff is rated as Category 1 and Bridgend as Category 2).
- “Category 3” councils are being allocated one councillor for every 2,500 people in their respective areas.
- In the Vale of Glamorgan – with a population of 127,592 – that’s said to indicate a need for 51 councillors rather than the present 47.
Commenting on the proposed enlargement, Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said he thought the proposal seemed reasonable bearing in mind the increased population – although he noted that the additional seats were calculated from the actual population. he said the Boundary Commission was not empowered to take into account the future projected rise in population of the Vale of Glamorgan which was set to rise because of all the new housing developments in the Vale which were – he said – “inevitably are going to go ahead” .
He thought that moving to the proposed 51 councillors would be aq “reasonable” figure bearing in mind the extra work that [councillors] would have to do .
He noted however that it was possible in future that town and community councils like Penarth might well acquire some services currently provided by the Vale Council
The sizes of councils proposed by the Boundary Commission is varied by category in a rough ratio to correspond with their respective populations. Applying that rough yardstick, Cardiff would qualify for a nominal 89 councillors. However, that nominal total would be reduced by applying what the Commission calls “restraints” which would bring down the number of councillors on Cardiff Council to 75. [If Cardiff had merged with the Vale Council the total number of councillors proposed would still have been 75] .
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said this was a “lazy ” way of assessing the proper size. He thought the Boundary Commission had adopted a “simplistic way of assessing council size”. He thought it was wrong that the commission should propose a “lower density of councillors” in rural areas. A council which represented a deprived area had “hugely more demands on it than anybody else” and a council such as Cardiff “had massive numbers of people coming in to work there” . He thought the Boundary Commission’s method of assessing council size was “lazy ” . It did not take account of all factors.
The chairman Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustine’s) said he would have made the same sort of observation himself – although he noted that the Commission became “slightly more sophisticated” when talking about “communities”.
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said that the projected numbers [of councillors in unitary authorities] actually represented a reduction in the number of councillors “if you are talking about a population increase”.[ i.e. the ratio of councillors to the population of an area would be lower in future under the proposals] . He said “The average sort of works in the average municipal authority” but comparing, say, Cardiff with Gwent was like comparing” chalk and cheese”, Both had “completely different needs and requirements”. The model was at faulty but “ you have to have some sort of model”.
Cllr Gwyn Roberts said he was querying why the Commission was critical of a more sophisticated yardstick on the grounds that it would be “complex”. He said there was a saying that” for every complex problem there’s a simple solution – and it’s wrong”. There should be a comprehensive assessment of each council.
Cllr Turner said Town and Community Councils should also be included in such an assessment . [ They are not included in this one] .
However Cllr Neil Thomas Labour Cornerswell) pointed out that there was some reference to town and community councils in the Boundary Commission’s accompanying “Electoral Review”
[This review considers the number of members of the council in the “principle area” , the number of electoral wards and their boundaries , the number of councillors to be elected for any electoral ward and the names of the electoral wards. Members of the general public are encouraged to make representations and suggestions as part of the process of a review]