Cross party review says 39 councillors for Fenland not enough -three more needed 

Fenland Council Cabinet from earlier this year.

Fenland Council Cabinet from earlier this year. The council believes Fenland needs an extra three councillors to handle the work load going forward. - Credit: Archant

It once earnt the accolade of a ‘rotten borough’ for the number returned unopposed but Fenland District Council now wants more councillors. 

The Electoral Reform Society declared Fenland District Council top of the Rotten Boroughs table in the 2019 elections when 12 councillors out of 39 were returned unopposed.  

But the council is about to tell the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) Electoral Review that 39 councillors simply aren’t enough.  

Chief executive Paul Medd says the council decided in May to approach the LGBCE to begin a review.  
He says it was based on the “predicted electoral inequality that would be apparent by the next round of all out elections in 2023”.  

The LGBCE agreed to a review and so a working party was set up to consider options. 

"Considerations regarding the future council size form the initial part of the electoral review process and is a key factor in determining the type and scale of the review to be undertaken by LGBCE,” says Mr Medd. 

The council considered the right numbers to take decisions and manage the business “in an in an effective way” 

They also look at scrutiny and considered how many councillors were needed to “provide leadership to local communities in Fenland”. 

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And there were, he says, future governance changes being considered and how would these impact on the number of councillors needed in the future. 

A cross-party group conducted the review.   

Mr Medd says the LGBCE will confirm a future council size which they believe will provide the “appropriate basis for the preparation of warding proposals, which is the second key component of the electoral review process”. 

The working group considered a range of sizes ranging from 39 to 48 but were “content to settle on a recommendation of 42”. 

The working party says any less than the 39 at present would have a “detrimental impact”. 

A new figure of 42 would “strike the right balance especially in the context of the changes that have happened since the last debate on this matter in 2012”. 

The report prepared by Mr Medd says the extra councillors are needed for additional representation at the Combined Authority and expected growth in Fenland by 2027.  

The council will debate the proposals on September 29.

The boundary commission will look at the recommendations on October 19.