Brentwood election system moves one step closer to change

Brentwood Borough Council has asked the Boundary Commission for permission to increase the number of councillors that represent its residents – while people are set to be given a chance on how frequently elections are held.

However, any decision to change to a “whole council” election every four years from the current “elections by thirds” system will need two thirds of councillors to vote for it.

But before that Brentwood residents will be asked their views in a consultation the wording and details of which are yet to be decided.

Under the current system, one third of all councillors in the 15 Brentwood Council wards are elected each year for three years.

In the fourth year of the cycle, no council election is held.

The move to “whole council” elections would see all councillors face the voters at the same time once every four years.

Councillor David Kendall, who supported the decision for a consultation, said: “If the consultation is by the internet then then so be it if that’s the cheapest way.

“But I think it’s the principle of asking people what they think and then once we’ve got that back we are going to discuss this I’m sure at a future council meeting and we’ll have I’m sure some very passionate views on both sides of the chamber.

“People will be agreeing and disagreeing with each other but if there isn’t that two-thirds it’s not going to change so I honestly wouldn’t worry too much about it.

“But I think the fact is let’s ask our residents.”

In the meantime Brentwood Borough Council has also asked the Boundary Commission for permission to increase the number of councillors by two from the current number of 37.

That comes amidst an anticipated increased in the number of residents over the next decade.

The population of the Borough of Brentwood is approximately 76,550, making it the second smallest local authority in Essex.

But with thousands of new homes being planned across the borough over the next ten years the number of households are expected to increase by around 20 per cent.

Councillor Barry Aspinall, Leader of Brentwood Liberal Democrats, said: “I thoroughly agree in terms of increasing the numbers of the councillors representing Brentwood to 39 from its current 37.

“It’s well documented that the amount of new homes that’s now going to be built in Brentwood, and that is going to generate much more work for an awful lot more people. I personally I think 39 might be on the light side but we are where we are.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter