Barking and Dagenham Council does not intend to increase councillor numbers ahead of boundary review

There were 220 reports of corporate fraud made to Barking and Dagenham Council during 2019-20. Pictu

There were 220 reports of corporate fraud made to Barking and Dagenham Council during 2019-20. Picture: Luke Acton. - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham Council does not intend to increase the number of councillors ahead of a ward boundary review.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE), which carries out periodic assessments of councils to ensure wards are balanced, is due to review Barking and Dagenham for the first time in more than two decades.

Prior to a public consultation later this year, the council has been asked to agree on how many councillors it should have - something voted on at an assembly meeting on Wednesday, July 22.

Documents released ahead of the meeting described councillors’ workloads as “demanding and challenging”, adding: “A case could potentially be made to increase the number of councillors serving the authority as a way of addressing increasing pressures and demands on the council.

“However, given the context of reducing council budgets amidst the backdrop of continuing austerity and now the Covid-19 pandemic, it is proposed that a council size remaining at 51 councillors can be justified to enable each councillor to deliver/fulfil their responsibilities and duties as elected ward representatives.”

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During the virtual meeting, the proposal to keep 51 councillors was approved after none of those present opted to raise any concerns or comments,

The last ward boundary review in Barking and Dagenham took place in 1999, when there were 114,000 people eligible to vote in Barking and Dagenham. As of January 2020, that figure had risen to more than 141,000.

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An electoral imbalance was found in four of the council’s 17 wards - where the electorate to councillor ratio is more than 10 per cent from the average ratio in the borough. A further four wards are close to that threshold with a 9pc ratio.

The revised ward boundaries, designed to balance the ratio, are set to be published by the LGBCE in October, when a public consultation will also begin.

That is due to run until Janaury, with a second phase of the consultation scheduled to run between May and July 2021.

Any changes to ward boundaries in Barking and Dagenham are expected to be implemented ahead of the 2022 council election.

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