Ward boundaries in Reading will be reviewed by the Boundary Commission (LGBCE) this year. The review is required because five of Reading’s 16 wards have an electorate size more than 10% above or below the borough average. These wards include the south and east Reading wards of Church, Redlands and Whitley.
The LGBCE told Reading Borough Council (RBC) in April 2018 that boundaries were likely to be reviewed. This was based on the 1 December 2017 electoral register. A year later, the numbers were very similar.
(December 2017) /December 2018
|% above or below|
Reading ward average in (2017)/2018
|Reading ward average||(7329)/7250||(0%)/0%|
|Reading total electorate||(112362)/ 111165||n/a|
Table: The three south and east Reading wards whose total electorate deviate by more than 10% from the Reading average, and overall numbers for Reading (source – 15 July 2019 policy committee papers and other RBC figures).
The electorate in Whitley ward is expected to continue to increase because of the housing developments taking place there now and planned for the future.
Redlands and Church wards, with their large student populations, have been disproportionately affected by the introduction of individual electoral registration (IER) in 2014. IER meant that it was no longer possible for one person to register everyone living in a household such as a hall of residence or house in multiple occupation, and this led to a decline in registrations.
There are currently 16 wards in Reading; 15 are represented by three councillors and one (Mapledurham) by only one. This review will also consider RBC’s proposal to increase councillor representation by two to 48.
All ward boundaries could be affected by this review even if they are currently within + or – 10% of the Reading average.
The report going to the RBC policy committee on 15 July points out that the division of Reading between the two parliamentary constituencies of Reading East and Reading West places some constraints on where new ward boundaries can be drawn. Whitley and Church wards are adjacent but lie in different constitutencies*.
The timetable to agree on new ward boundaries includes a public consultation in the autumn and the LGBCE will present their draft recommendations early in 2020. Final recommendations are expected to agreed by Parliament in Autumn 2020.
There are no local elections in 2021 and so the first time that the new boundaries will be used is in 2022. The local elections in that year will elect all Reading councillors.
*update and correction 7 February 2020
Para 6.4 of the policy committee report stated:
One factor in any future review may be the Parliamentary constituency boundaries, which the LGBCE will not be able to change. In this regard, Whitley and Church, whilst adjacent wards in South Reading, are in different constituencies.
Recommendations for new ward boundaries in the LGBCE review published for consultation in February 2020 are not in fact constrained by and would cut across current parliamentary boundaries.