Post by YL on Aug 8, 2020 12:56:20 GMT
The sudden outbreak of split wards of the '2019 electorates' thread has set me thinking about whether any rules, or guidelines, might be applicable here.
I have very serious reservations about splitting wards, of course, but I acknowledge that it's likely to happen as part of the review. And the evidence of the other thread is that split wards are like sugar almonds: you think, "Oh, I'll just have one to taste," then, "One more won't hurt," and before you know it, half the packet has disappeared. So here are a few suggested rules or guidelines, just off the top of my head.
- Whole wards are the norm and splits the exception.
- Any split must be justified, case by case, showing how it represents a significant improvement over the best possible non-split plan. The justification should be in terms of the stautory factors applying to boundary-drawing (respect for the existing map, for LA boundaries, &c).
- Splits should use Polling Districts.
- No ward should be split between more than two seats.
- No seat should involve more than one split ward.
- No 'orphan splits': that is, when the boundary of an authority is crossed, at least one whole ward should be taken.
The rationale for the last rule is that orphan wards are regarded as undesirable because of the risk that a single ward from an adjoining LA might be regarded as a peripheral and unimportant part of the seat to which little attention need be paid. A split ward, however, by definition will involve even fewer electors that a whole ward, so will be at even greater risk of being marginalized.
2. Rather, I'd state what I'm trying to do and for what I think the splits are necessary. If you can then come up with a plan which achieves that and has no (or fewer) splits, fair enough. E.g. if you can find a plan for Sheffield and Rotherham combined, with only one boundary crossing, I'll happily drop my split ward.
3. Yes, mainly for reasons of practicality in the consultation.
4. I wouldn't put a blanket ban on this, but it would be very much the exception.
5. See 4.
6. See 4, though I'm struggling to think of anywhere I'd want to consider this.