Boundary-drawing policy issues Aug 10, 2020 8:46:57 GMT
Post by Peter Wilkinson on Aug 10, 2020 8:46:57 GMT
I can see a problem with that - this will in effect require, for instance, London boroughs to produce accurate March 2020 electorate figures for wards which they will not be using until May 2022, and for which they would otherwise not have to produce electoral registers using those boundaries before December 2021.
This should not be impossible - but I get the impression that many local authorities resource their electoral registration departments at a low enough level that calculating the requisite March 2020 figures will turn out to be quite beyond their competence and resourcing.
Of course, it should be possible in principle to do this not just at ward level but down to polling district level, but because of an extra consideration, I regard this as, in general, beyond the bounds of practical possibility. The consideration is that polling districts have to respect all electoral boundaries - including ward boundaries - with the consequence that any changes in ward boundaries will usually require changes to at least two polling districts. But changes to polling districts do not take place within boundary reviews - they are the result of a separate review by the relevant local authority, to be undertaken after, for instance, a ward review has been completed and before the new ward boundaries are to be used in an electoral register. For this reason, I would guess that most London boroughs will not only not yet have started polling district reviews that they need to conduct before the May 2022 elections (and preparation of the December 2021 register) but, given the distractions of Covid-19, will currently have no plan to start on these before the summer, or even the autumn, of 2021.
I am fairly sure that local authorities could be required, where necessary, to bring these polling district reviews forward to within the next six months or so. But I very much doubt that the PBCE will insert anything into its guidance, without government instruction, that would activate this requirement.
In brief - I would expect PBCE guidance only to commit to using new ward boundaries if the government is publicly prepared to back up the guidance by requiring local authorities to produce March 2020 electorate figures for the new wards (though I think it more likely than not that the government will do so). And I would further expect the PBCE only to be willing even to contemplate any ward-splitting if, as and when polling district electorate information for the whole of England is available (and I think it unlikely that the government intends to actively expedite this).