Flawed council boundary outcome slammed by Green councillors

7 August 2018

Flawed council boundary outcome slammed by Green councillors

The Green Group of Mid Suffolk councillors is relieved that the protracted review of electoral boundaries has ended, while being troubled by the poor process which has led to an unsatisfactory outcome.

The review, conducted by the Boundaries Committee for England (BCE), was based on projected data which took little or no account of the many subsequent planning approvals.

Despite the figures being subject to considerable uncertainty, the Commission conducted the review with inflexible adherence to precise equality of numbers at the expense of the community links and social geography which are so important in our rural district.

In the Elmswell and Woolpit Ward, the proposals allow for an additional 66 electors in the next five years - therefore assuming approximately only 40 homes will be built in that ward in that time. Similarly in the new Haughley, Stowupland & Wetherden ward the proposals suggest an additional 53 electors over the next five years - equivalent to only 30 homes being built. Any local resident noting the amount of planning permissions granted would think these are ludicrous assumptions.

On the detail, Green councillors note that :

• closely linked communities will now have separated representation
• there are more two member wards than necessary, and thus poorer accountability of councillors to voters

The claim that BCE “identified anomalies with the electorate figures..” (paragraph 22) omits that Mid Suffolk Green Party pointed this out at an earlier stage, so that certainty could have been delivered much earlier in 2018.

The hard work in 2014 to achieve satisfactory wards for Stowmarket Town Council has been wasted, when this could have been saved by commencing a review of County Council divisions for the town instead. The outcome of ward sizes ranging from one to five councillors is absurd

Overall there seems little point in local communities and their elected representatives engaging in the review process when BCE place so much emphasis on numbers, estimated while excluding the hundreds of granted planning permissions, and so little on the communities the outcome should serve.

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