Number of Wolverhampton councillors under review

The number of councillors representing Wolverhampton and the specifics of ward boundaries within the city is set to be reviewed for the first time in 16 years.

Wolverhampton Council's Civic Centre headquarters
Wolverhampton Council's Civic Centre headquarters

At present, the city is divided into 20 wards with three councillors per ward – a total of 60 members sitting on Wolverhampton Council, 50 Labour and 10 Conservative.

Officers from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England announced the intention to carry out a review for Wolverhampton in July this year. The last review was conducted in 2003-04.

The council’s head of governance, Martyn Sargeant, said: “The council has an understanding of the work that will be required on its part to help facilitate this review, the significant majority of which will need to be completed by May 2020.

“Although the different political groups may wish to put in individual submissions, the council will need to make representations in three key areas.

“These are the number of councillors that the council feels are required in order for it to effectively discharge its responsibilities, and the expected number of voters in each current polling district by 2026, based on current trends and future developments. Both of these are due by February 4, 2020.

“The third task is to carry out a detailed analysis of the way community geography stands across the city, identifying exactly where the boundaries lie between one area and another. This is due to be completed by May 2020.”

“The first element of the review will require detailed analysis of the council’s local and regional responsibilities, and the eventual submission will inevitably be politically sensitive. The opposition group has already indicated that its position is likely to be different to that of the administration,” he added.

A report to the council states that the second element is relatively straightforward, and will require a significant gathering of data that councillors will wish to approve prior to submission.

“The third element will require input from and consultation with every ward councillor, and will also be politically sensitive, meaning the approval process will be involved,” said Mr Sargeant.

“There will be significant political interest in this review and its outcomes, and therefore the council’s submissions.”

In normal circumstances, the project would be overseen by the electoral services manager or the head of governance, with oversight from the director of governance. The first and third of these posts at Wolverhampton Council are currently vacant and unlikely to be occupied before spring 2020.

Mr Sargeant is already overseeing the council’s Brexit preparations and its readiness for an expected snap general election. The Government has also made available funding to councils to support this.

The council’s Governance Committee will discuss the review on Friday.

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