Electoral review in St Helens 'almost certain' to recommend an increase in councillors

St Helens Councils current system sees a third of councillors elected every year over a four-year cycle, with no elections in the fourth year.
St Helens Councils current system sees a third of councillors elected every year over a four-year cycle, with no elections in the fourth year.

A cross-party group of councillors will consider whether St Helens Council should switch to all-out elections or stick with the current system.


The Local Government Boundary Commission, an independent body responsible for determining the electoral arrangements of local authorities across England, is due to carry out an electoral review of the council in 2020-21.

The purpose of the review is to consider the number of councillors elected to the council and to each ward, as well as the names, number and boundaries of the wards.

The last electoral review of St Helens Council was completed in 2003 and saw the number of councillors reduced from 54 to 48 and the wards cut from 18 to 16.

Before providing a response to these matters, the council needs to consider whether it wants to continue with the current electoral system of ‘election by thirds’ or move to the ‘all-out’ election system.

The council’s current system sees a third of councillors elected every year over a four-year cycle, with no elections in the fourth year.

An all-out system, like that used by Warrington Borough Council, sees the entire council up for election every four years and would cost considerably less than the current system.

“Once the council has decided which system of election to adopt it will need to move on and form a view on the size of the council,” a cabinet report says.

“That is the number of councillors which are required in order that they may most effectively carry out all of the duties placed on them.

“Once this has been decided the aim of the review is to recommend ward boundaries that result in each councillor representing approximately the same number of voters.

“It should be noted that it is also important to ensure that the ward boundaries best reflect the interests and identities of the local community in addition to providing effective local government.”

While it is unclear whether the council will look to switch to the all-out election system, a Labour source has claimed the council will “almost certainly” seek to change the boundaries and recommend an increase in councillors.

On Wednesday, cabinet agreed to establish a cross-party electoral review working group to advise the council on its response to the Boundary Commission.

The group will be supported by officers from the council’s electoral, legal, democratic and planning teams.