29 Jan Norman’s Notes January 2021
Boundary Commission to begin an Electoral Review of MSDC
Mid Sussex District Council has recommended that at least 48 elected Members should represent the District from 2023; this is a reduction of up to six.
The Local Government Boundary Commission (England) (LGBC) is about to begin an Electoral Review of Mid Sussex District Council and the first step is for the local authority to suggest a future Council Size. Full Council met on 27 January 2021 and Councillors approved a Council Size proposal of at least 48 elected Members.
Electoral Reviews are a statutory requirement and must take place regularly to ensure councils are able to conduct their business and provide effective representation of their electorate. The last Electoral Review of Mid Sussex District Council took effect in 2002.
The Council’s recommendation will be formally submitted to the LGBC, so it can begin the Electoral Review of MSDC. The final decision on Council Size rests with the Commission, but it encourages local authorities to actively engage with the process.
MSDC operates a cabinet model of decision making, as recommended by the Local Government Act 2000, with policies approved by the Cabinet sent to Full Council for agreement. The Council recommends that the same outcomes could be reached, with less resources required, if the number of Councillors is reduced by 10% to 15% and this is the suggestion that has been made to the Boundary Commission.
As part of the Review, the LGBC will make final recommendations to Parliament on the following:
– Total number of Councillors
– Total number of Wards
– Ward boundaries
– Number of Councillors elected to each Ward
– Names of each Ward
The LGBC is scheduled to complete the Electoral Review of MSDC in December 2022. Any changes to Ward boundaries or Polling Districts must be completed by summer 2022, to enable the new Electoral Register and Council Size to take effect at the May 2023 Local Government Elections.
Preparations for May 2021 elections
This work was also reported to Full Council on 27 January. Compulsory Reviews and Revisions of Polling Schemes take place every 5 years. The last Review was undertaken in late 2019, but Covid-19 has necessitated work to ensure all 79 polling stations across Mid Sussex are Covid-19 safe. This work has been largely completed and includes stipulating requirements for separate entrances and exits, prescribed layouts to ensure good voter flow and management of queues if they arise. Voters will be asked to wear masks and sanitise hands on entry and exit. There will be strict cleaning regimes in place for polling booths, issuing desks and all touch points, every 30 minutes or 15 voters.
Voters will be requested to bring their poll card with them, as it will have a bar code to electronically link to the voters roll. This is to reduce manual crossing off voter’s names on the roll, when issuing ballot papers. Sanitised pencils will be available should voters not have their own pen or pencil.
Computers for Kids initiative
Apart from all the above work within my portfolio, officers work with Mid Sussex Voluntary Action on a number of community initiatives. One of these is the important Computers for Kids program, which supplies IT equipment to children who have no access to online learning.
Demand currently outstrips supply.
Following the Chancellor’s announcement of further one-off grants of between £4,000 and £9,000 (depending on rateable value) to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that are required to be closed, Mid Sussex District Council has been working hard to process payments quickly.
Additional discretionary funding from government is being made available, so Councils can continue to support other impacted businesses. We have ensured that Mid Sussex’s policy on discretionary grants is deliberately wide ranging, so that it supports as many businesses as possible, including those who fall outside the criteria for other grant schemes.
If you have not yet applied, your application can be made here: <<CLICK HERE>>
On 26 January I chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Grants Panel at which we considered the second round of the 2020/21 Micro Business Grant Scheme. There has been a substantial increase in the number of applications received for the Scheme, but few from East Grinstead. Perhaps we need to do more to promote these schemes? Please do diarise this for later in the year so you have your plans formulated in good time for the 2021/22.
Further information on this small grant and others is available here: https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/licensing-business/micro-business-grants
Sussex Police and Crime Panel
This scrutiny panel meets on Friday 29 January to formally review the Sussex Police and Crime Plan, in accordance with the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. The new plan, for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2024 is developed by the Police and Crime Commissioner, as one of her statutory duties. It is the duty of the new Chief Constable, Jo Shiner, to implement the plan.
I was privileged to be involved in approving the appointment of Jo Shiner: she has hit the ground running and I hope you have noticed an increased presence of police and some notable successes in closing in on criminal, drug related and other antisocial activities.
Further information can be found here: https://sussexpcp.gov.uk/
Amendments to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy
Environmental Health, Food Standards and Licensing are areas of my Community portfolio which continue, often unnoticed but, in most areas, see an increase in demand because of Covid-19.
The local taxi trade has been hard hit and whilst dealing with drastically reduced demand, is required to abide by new legislation to ensure protection of drivers and passengers, along with demands to reduce vehicle emissions.
The licensing committee will review responses to a recent public consultation at their meeting on 2 February. Further information can be found at: http://midsussex.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s9454/Statutory%20Standards%20Licensing%20Report.pdf