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Explanatory Memorandum to District Electoral Areas Commissioner (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Order 2007

7.Policy Background

7.1. Following the Review of Public Administration in Northern Ireland, the Government announced that the number of local government districts in Northern Ireland would be reduced from 26 to seven, and that an Independent Boundary Commissioner would decide the exact boundaries of the districts, Legislative provision has been made for this in the Local Government Boundaries (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 and provides for the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner to decide the boundaries and names of the local government districts.

7.2. A Local Government Boundary Commissioner has been appointed and is carrying out a review of boundaries and wards of the local government districts. Following this, a District Electoral Areas Commissioner will group together the new wards into District Electoral Areas. District Electoral Areas (“DEAs”) are groups of five, six or seven wards, grouped together for the purpose of electing local representatives (councillors) to district councils using the Proportional Representation single transferable method of voting. There are currently 101 DEAs in Northern Ireland.

7.3. This instrument enables the appointment of the District Electoral Areas Commissioner to take place before the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner’s final recommendations have been given effect in legislation. This is necessary in order for the District Electoral Areas Commissioner to carry out his work and make final recommendations within the necessary timeframe for elections to the seven new district councils to take place.

7.4.The instrument also adds the Chief Survey Officer of Ordance Survey for Northern Ireland to the list of assessors to the District Electoral Areas Commissioner and enables the Commissioner to combine public inquiries into the proposed grouping of wards in cases where he has proposed to hold inquiries in adjacent districts.

7.5. The Electoral Commission have been consulted on the draft instrument.

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