Agenda, decisions and minutes

Civic Affairs Committee - Thursday, 10 September 2015 4.00 p.m.

Venue: Swansley Room A and B - Ground Floor. View directions

Contact: Patrick Adams (Agenda) Graham Watts (Minutes)  03450 450 500 Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive Apologies for Absence from Committee members.


An apology for absence was received from Councillor Raymond Matthews.  Councillor Kevin Cuffley was appointed as a substitute for Councillor Matthews.


Declarations of Interest


Councillor Sebastian Kindersley declared an interest in item 4 as a Cambridgeshire County Councillor.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 9 July 2015 as a correct record.


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 9 July 2015 were confirmed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.


Local Government Boundary Commission for England Review Council Size Submission pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Additional documents:


The Civic Affairs Committee:


(a)        RECOMMENDED to Council that it recommends a Council size of 45 as part of its submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s electoral review.


(b)        AGREED the draft document appended to the report as a basis for an evidence-based submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, subject to the inclusion of a number of amendments suggested at the meeting, and that a revised version be circulated to all Members of the Civic Affairs Committee as soon as possible.


(c)        AGREED that officers be given authority to make any necessary amendments to the evidence-based submission document prior to its submission to Council, in liaison with the Chairman of the Civic Affairs Committee and political group leaders.


Consideration was given to a report which provided the Civic Affairs Committee with an opportunity to consider a recommendation to Council on making a submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England on Council size as part of its whole Council electoral ward review.


The Chairman introduced this item and referred to the appointment of Councillor Alex Riley, who had recently been appointed by the Leader of the Council as the Council’s Boundary Review Champion.  Councillor Riley, who was unable to attend the meeting, had put forward a proposal to recommend that the Council submitted a Council size of 45 to the Boundary Commission.  He felt that the best chance of agreeing this figure was for the whole Council to agree upon it in a unified way and cited the following as reasons for his proposal:


·         a Council size of 45 would correspond readily to mapping three South Cambridgeshire District Councillors onto every Cambridgeshire County Council Member in the current 15 Member Boundary Commission review of the County Council;

·         it happened to match numerically to a boundary review scenario independently drawn up by officers;

·         it was the minimum Council size which allowed the district’s largest parish of Histon and Impington to remain a three Member ward;

·         it represented a reduction of some 20% in the current Council size.


Discussion ensued on the proposal to recommend a Council size of 45, during which the following points were noted:


·         it was very difficult to consider a reduction in Council size given the rural nature of the district and the difficulties some Members already experienced in representing numerous rural communities;

·         there was a real risk of democratic deficit across the district as a reduction in Members would mean more communities to represent per Member;

·         there was a danger, however, of the Boundary Commission imposing a Council size based on South Cambridgeshire District Council’s statistical neighbours should the Council not be minded to put forward an evidence-based recommendation.  It was noted that a recommendation by the Council, as long as it was supported by an evidence base, was more likely to be accepted by the Boundary Commission;

·         the proposed Council size of 45 should be supported, but it should also be recommended that this number be a minimum for any proposed reduction in Council size;

·         the role of County Councillors and District Councillors was very different, so it was not vital to achieve a 3:1 ratio of District Councillors per County Councillor across the district;

·         in view of the significant projected population growth for South Cambridgeshire, it may be necessary for the Boundary Commission to undertake a further electoral earlier in the future than anticipated;

·         a reduction in Council size would mean that a lower number of Members would be expected to represent more people, with the projected population growth adding to this pressure.  In view of this, another issue to consider was how difficult it would be to attract people to stand as Councillors, particularly young people who worked and would not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on 24 September 2015 at 11am.


It was NOTED that the next meeting of the Civic Affairs Committee was scheduled to be held on 24 September 2015 at 11.00am.