Fringe Box



New County Council Divisional Boundaries Proposed

Published on: 15 May, 2024
Updated on: 17 May, 2024

By Emily Dalton

local democracy reporter

Major boundary changes could see some Surrey residents change county council divisions for the next local elections in a redrawing of the political map of the county.

Council divisions in Surrey are to increase by over 1,000 residents per councillor by 2029 in new county boundaries which have been drawn up.

Around 70 per cent of division boundaries will change as the Local Government Boundary Commission estimates an increase of nearly 90,000 people who are registered to vote.

The commission says the new layout – which would retain the 81 elected councillors we have today – would help the council to carry out its functions more effectively as it would even out the populations within each division.

The commission is the independent body which draws these boundaries based on community ties, similar electorate numbers and which facilities (eg parks and leisure centres) it makes sense for people to share.

Varying levels of public consultation on draft proposals took place between February 2023 and March 2024.

Professor Colin Mellors, chair of the Commission, said: “We are very grateful to people in Surrey. We looked at all the views they gave us. They helped us improve our earlier proposals. We believe the new arrangements will deliver electoral fairness while maintaining local ties.”

Recommendations from the Commission cannot affect Surrey’s external boundaries, or result in changes to postcodes. It does not affect local taxes, house prices, or car and house insurance premiums. However, it may affect which ward someone is in.

The Commission is required by law to consider not the number of households, but the number of electors within each division. For instance, residents suggested East and West Molesey should be combined in a single council ward division. However, such a division covering the two borough wards of Molesey West and Molesey East would have 36 per cent more electors than average, so it was not accepted.

County councils hold elections once every four years. Surrey’s next election is taking place in 2025. Currently, the Conservatives are the largest group with 49 councillors out of a total 81 seats. There are also 16 Liberal Democrats, two Green Party, two Labour (and Co-operative) councillors, four Independents, and 13 from different resident associations and groups.

The proposed boundary changes will allow each councillor to represent roughly the same number of electors. Recommendations are based on how many electors (ie people registered to vote) there are “likely” to be in five years time.

Approximately 876,454 eligible voters lived in the county in 2022, averaging at 10,820 electors per county councillor. The Commission estimates this number will increase by nearly 90,000 by 2029 when around 964,825 Surrey electors will be divided up to roughly 11,911 residents for each councillor. Only 24 ward boundaries out of 81 will stay the same.

Over 900 comments were made by people and organisations to help decide the new divisions. Changes in response to what local people said include altering the divisions in rural areas of Guildford, in response to fresh evidence on the ‘community identity’. 

For example, the village and civil parish of Ash was seen as more urban than rural, consequently moving out of the Worplesdon division and into Shalford. Additionally, Jacobs Well village was reviewed as having stronger community identity and rural connections with Worplesdon parish rather than neighbouring areas of Guildford.”

The Commission opted against having two councillors representing one ward in the Elmbridge borough as SCC argued that larger divisions had the potential to “dilute democratic accountability”. The Molesey Residents’ Association said locals would find a two-member division confusing and that councillors might have difficulty representing a division on this scale.”

The changes become law once Parliament has approved them. Staff at the council will ensure that the arrangements are in place for the 2025 elections.

The full report can be seen here:

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