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Thursday 29 July 2010

Cheshire East Council Rejects Election Changes


Cheshire East Council has rejected proposals to nearly double the number of electoral wards.

The council says the Local Government Boundary Commission has failed to listen to the concerns of local residents and councillors – and that the proposed changes would be too complex and costly.

The Local Government Boundary Commission (LGBC) for England has proposed increasing the number of Cheshire East wards from 27 to 52 and boosting the number of councillors from 81 to 82.

Under its proposals, Cheshire East Council would have six three-member wards, 18 two-member wards and 28 single-member wards.

The LGBC says it will make ward representation fairer and reflect expected shifts in population.

But Cheshire East councillors voted by 48 votes to 18 to reject the LGBC recommendations.

Cheshire East Council Leader Wesley Fitzgerald said: “The Boundary Commission has failed to listen to our concerns or listen to the people of East Cheshire – and we want the Government to step in on our behalf.

“We accept the proposal to increase the number of councillors to 82 but we need to ensure that council wards reflect local community identities and the links between communities.

“We need wards that would help provide convenient and effective local government.”

A meeting of the Full Council (Thursday, July 22) rejected the LGBC proposals, passing a motion saying:

● The Boundary Commission’s final recommendations are ‘unreasonable’ as they fail to take into account or give due weight to submissions from the community and council;

● The recommendations would be complex and very costly to introduce at a time when this council is being urged to make budget savings;

● That the timetable for decision making by Parliament is too drawn out – with a final ruling possibly not due until December, leaving little time for implementation and added pressure on the council;

● The changes to wards and representation would make the administration of elections much more complex;

● The proposals involve changes to warding arrangements for the parishes of Congleton, Gawsworth, Nantwich, Poynton, Sandbach, Weston and Willaston.

The council vote noted the LGBC’s final report and passed a resolution to ask Parliament to reject the LGBC’s final recommendations and request the Leader of Cheshire East Council to write to local MPs and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles so that a complete revision of the boundaries can take place at the same time as the Parliamentary Boundary Review in 2014.

The resolution continued: “This would enable the Boundary Commission to take a holistic view of the impact that the radical changes – that are likely in the design of the parliamentary constituency boundaries – will have on the local authority ward structure and town and parish boundaries.”

The publication of the commission’s final recommendations follows its draft recommendations last November and consultations with local representatives and communities.

Parliament is due to rule on the recommendations in the autumn. If accepted, the electoral changes would come into force for the next council elections in May 2011.

Max Caller, chair of the LGBC, said: “We are grateful to all the people across East Cheshire who took the time and effort to send us their views.”

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