After this consultation period the Boundary Committee will consider all the views and decide whether or not to alter its draft recommendations. It will then submit its final recommendations to the Electoral Commission - an independent body set up by Parliament - which will be responsible for implementing any changes.
South Tyneside Council has worked closely with the Commission and in August last year undertook an extensive public consultation involving every household in the Borough. It explained about the Periodic Electoral Review and why it is necessary to look at changes to ward boundaries every ten to fifteen years because of changes to the electorate. Public meetings were held in all areas and an all party Task Group set up to oversee the Council's own draft proposals for change.
In September the Council's Cabinet agreed that an 18-ward arrangement would be submitted as a proposal. It had the unanimous support of the majority political group on the Council and represented the views of a large proportion of local people who responded in the public consultation exercise.
The draft proposals of the Boundary Committee incorporate some of the Council's suggestions, but also include other proposals which they consider will provide electoral equality within the Borough.
If the draft proposals are accepted the 18 ward arrangement will give an average electoral population for each ward of 6,500. Rekendyke and All Saints wards will disappear and three other wards will have new names. These are: Simonside; Brockley & Biddick and Hebburn North.
Council Leader Paul Waggott says: "People living in South Tyneside will be affected by these draft proposals which will see boundaries changing, the number of councillors reduced and name changes to three wards. I would like to encourage everyone to study the draft recommendations and let the Boundary Committee have their views, whether or not they agree with them."
Commenting on the proposals, the Committee's Chairman, Pamela Gordon, says: "At present, the electoral arrangements across Tyne and Wear are significantly unbalanced. The aim of our review is to ensure that, as far as possible within each borough, each person's vote should have the same value as another's, without disrupting community identities. We are consulting until 22nd April and I hope that all those affected by our proposals will tell us what they think about them."
The Boundary Committee's draft recommendations can be viewed during normal opening hours until Easter at the following places: South Shields Town Hall; Jarrow Town Hall; Hebburn Civic Centre; South Shields Central Library and branch libraries; Jarrow Community Centre and Hebburn Community Centre. Posters in six different languages will also be on display for ethnic residents.