The Central ward of Sheffield is currently the most populous in the country with roughly 39,685 inhabitants, over 7 times the national average of 5,500 as estimated in 2013. It is apparently quite common for central city wards to be so full despite the existence of wards on the other end of the spectrum such as St. Martin’s on the Isles of Scilly with a meagre 150 occupants. This gives said Scilly occupants about 250 times the potential influence over who represents them locally when compared to the ones in the middle of Sheffield. Not so scilly after all.
But this is old news, the LGBCE (Local Government Boundary Commission for England) has been working on a solution for a while now and has submitted its final recommendations for the changing of the ward boundaries throughout Sheffield. Its aims in its own words are “to ensure that each Sheffield councillor represents roughly the same number of voters”.
Some key things to note here are that whilst wards in Sheffield will be evened out (from 43% variance to no more than 10%) in comparison to each other, the average ward population will remain stubbornly high at upwards of 18,000. The aim being to level the playing field locally, not nationally. The other notable factor in all of this is that the LGBCE has based all of its recommendations on the presence of the electorate – people registered to vote. So, places with lower proportions of people engaged on that basic level will continue to be less well represented.
There will be all out local elections as a result of these boundary changes for Sheffield in 2016 where each member of the electorate will have three votes for three potential councillors. The Green party will be pushing as hard as we can after the surge and successes of the 2015 elections. And as part of the canvassing effort I would really appreciate working in a nice small ward where I can get to know everyone by name and constantly stop for cake and tea.
So if ever you’re longing for an more intimate connection with your local representation you could up sticks and live in the woods (preferably on an island) far from the maddening crowds and luxuriate in your desolate sea of greater political influence. Or you could just get involved with the green party. Because we’re lovely.