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  • We have a long-standing relationship with Ordnance Survey, which has an excellent understanding of our business, our needs and our priorities. Without this expertise, the LGBCE would incur significant extra costs.

    Archie Gall, Director of Reviews

Ordnance Survey geographic information is essential to ensure that the Local Government Boundary Commission electoral area boundaries are accurate and detailed.

The challenge

The main task of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is to review the electoral arrangements of district and county councils across England. The LGBCE’s review programme aims to ensure that ward and division boundaries reflect local communities and deliver electoral equality for voters at local elections.

One of the key elements essential in LGBCE performing its public task is the creation of digital boundaries, plotted on accurate and detailed maps to illustrate the boundary locations. A mapping illustration is integral to the LGBCE boundary review process, because local people need to know where the boundaries are so that they can view proposals and become fully involved in the consultations. Local authorities also rely on this information to effectively plan and run elections.

Maintaining an accurate and accessible boundary network for England is essential to the LGBCE performing its public task. Ensuring that all interested parties have easy access to mapping that accurately depicts current and proposed electoral area boundaries is a critical function of the organisation.

The solution

The boundary creation process and mapping of those boundaries on Great Britain’s most detailed digital maps comes as part of a unique and very effective relationship between the LGBCE and Ordnance Survey, underpinned by the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA).

The PSMA – a licensing agreement that allows all public sector organisations across England and Wales to use geographic data provided by Ordnance Survey – has opened up access to a large suite of digital mapping products that the LGBCE uses as part of the review process. These products, some of which show every individual building and ground feature, are essential to the LGBCE in providing an efficient service to local government and the public.

Digital mapping data can be shared quickly and cost-effectively between the LGBCE, Ordnance Survey and local authorities. Its pinpoint accuracy ensures that mistakes are avoided, so people know which electoral ward they are located in, and that a single property is not unintentionally divided between two different wards on the same street. The LGBCE is now able to make available, to local authorities that have been subject to a review, accurate revised ward and division boundary data in a digital format, as soon as a review has been completed. This enables early planning for future elections on new electoral arrangements and minimises the scope for error.

Ordnance Survey and the LGBCE work very closely throughout the review process, right from the preliminary stages of a review through to the laying of an Order before Parliament. Ordnance Survey has a dedicated boundary team that works closely with the LGBCE’s review staff to ensure maximum efficiency in the programming and delivery of reviews. This arrangement allows the LGBCE to conduct up to 50 reviews per year, each of which has detailed and accurate mapping showing new boundaries.

The benefits

  • Enables the sharing of detailed boundary line-work across central and local government.
  • OS MasterMap® Topography Layer data ensures pinpoint accuracy to reduce errors and mistakes.
  • Delivers savings to local authorities.
  • Supports the LGBCE to achieve tight deadlines and corporate goals but also maintains the flexibility to meet changing priorities.
  • Without support from Ordnance Survey and the PSMA, the LGBCE would:
    • need to invest in additional dedicated mapping specialists and equipment to draw its own boundaries in-house;
    • need to fund access to accurate mapping data;
    • take longer to produce maps for each review, as it wouldn’t have access to the knowledge and experience of Ordnance Survey;
    • have difficulty in communicating to the general public the proposed boundary changes; and
    • have difficulty in fulfilling its business objectives.

Comment in full

We have a long-standing relationship with Ordnance Survey, which has an excellent understanding of our business, our needs and our priorities. Without this expertise, the LGBCE would incur significant extra costs. The agreement we have with Ordnance Survey allows us to tap into the unrivalled technical expertise of its boundary team, while the PSMA gives us access to the wide range of digital data that is so essential to our work. The partnership benefits us not just financially but is key to delivering fair and effective electoral arrangements for local authorities across England.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 708kB


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A new web portal, underpinned by geographical information from Ordnance Survey, is helping to make electoral boundaries clearer.

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