Islington is to see sweeping changes to its ward boundaries as well as receive three more councillors under final recommendations made by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
The independent Commission conducted a review in response to ‘electoral inequality’ found within the borough, with some councillors currently representing many more or fewer voters than their colleagues.
Under the proposals, Islington would be represented by 51 councillors, three more than there are now, with the number of its wards increasing by one to 17. The boundaries of all wards but Tufnell Park would stay the same.
Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said, “We are extremely grateful to people across Islington who took part in the review.
“The Commission has looked at all the evidence that was put forward during the consultation.
“We believe these recommendations deliver electoral fairness for voters as well as reflecting community ties throughout Islington.”
The Town Hall “welcomed” the decision in a response to a prior draft version of the changes, pointing to the increasing workload of councillors as demand for services rise, the population increases, austerity continues to bite and residents’ ability to contact councillors becomes easier.
Linzi Roberts-Egan, Islington Council’s chief executive, wrote at the time: “Dividing the borough into 17, three-member wards will help to support the resilience of members across the borough and will ensure that member workloads are manageable.
“Designating every ward as three-member ward allows all councillors to share their workload in a fair and equal manner. Three-member wards allow members to share responsibilities for progressing casework, leading on local issues and attending community meetings in an even way that ensures that councillors’ workloads are manageable.
“Meeting these responsibilities would be more challenging in a two-member ward; even if the two-member ward was geographically smaller with relatively fewer electors.”
Roberts-Egan went on to acknowledge that there was a “financial implication” to the addition of three more councillors, who currently receive an annual allowance of £10,312 per year.
The draft proposals to which Roberts-Egan was responding have been amended in the final decision, with the boundary between Hillrise and Junction wards amended along the rear of Miranda Road, in an attempt not to divide electors in the area from others in the Whitehall Park Conservation Area.
The Commission had also suggested including voters between Highbury Grove and Highbury Fields in Mildmay ward, but following local feedback, the Commission proposed to maintain the whole of the area in the new Highbury ward.
The proposals still need rubber-stamping by Parliament, and will be laid before MPs in the coming months, with the first time they would come into force set for the council elections in 2022.
A report on the full recommendations and changes made to the proposals is available on the Commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk.