THE historic Warrington villages of Hatton, Stretton and Walton could be erased from the borough map if draft recommendations from the boundary commission are given the green light.
All three villages would become part of a “greater Appleton” says local councillor Paul Kennedy, who has launched a campaign to save the borough ward he represents.
The commission say the electoral review is being carried out as the Council currently has high levels of electoral inequality where some councillors represent many more or many fewer voters than others.
This means that the value of each vote in borough council elections varies depending on where you live in Warrington. Overall, 41% of wards currently have a variance of more than 10% from the average for the borough.
The council currently has 57 councillors. Based on the evidence the commission received during previous phases of the review, they consider that an increase in council size by one to 58 members will ensure the Council can perform its roles and responsibilities effectively.
Cllr Kennedy, leader of the Conservative group on the Borough Council, said: “The Boundary Commission in their Draft Recommendations have erased Hatton, Stretton and Walton as a Borough Ward.
“Not only that, they do not acknowledge these three important local and distinct communities in the Wards of Appleton and Stockton Heath, that they are proposing they merge with.
“It is accepted that Hatton, Stretton and Walton, whilst geographically large has a small population, and whilst the Commission talk about equality of votes across the Borough, what residents are much more concerned about is the quality of representation and accountability, and as a distinct Borough Ward, as it is now, that is exactly what residents receive.
“In my opinion, that will not be the case, when and if the Ward is broken up, and the names of the three Parishes are erased from Borough Wards.
“Indeed in their literature, the Boundary Commission state that “A good pattern of Wards should: reflect community interests and identities and include evidence of community links”, they also infer that having a greater number of Councillors in a Ward dilutes accountability.
“So in one stroke of their pen, they have gone against their own guidance. That is why when their Draft Recommendations were made public on August 25, I immediately called the Commission to complain that they have erased the names of Hatton, Stretton and Walton from Borough Ward Boundaries.
“I have now started a campaign to save the Ward of Hatton, Stretton and Walton, so that its residents and Parish Councils can receive the support and accountability that they need and deserve from a designated elected Borough representative, and I am urging all residents to lobby the Boundary Commission to save their Borough Ward.”
Appleton Cllr Judith Wheeler added: “The proposed changes came as a great shock to all the Councillors in Appleton.
“We thought we would be untouched by any proposed boundary changes.
“We can’t understand why the Boundary Commission has destabilised Appleton. The Bridgewater Canal is no longer a natural boundary as we lose many roads to Stockton Heath.
“Taking in Stretton and Hatton made some sense but we thought Walton might go with Stockton Heath to increase its electorate.
“Losing Appleton Thorn to Grappenhall is awful.
“If approved, Appleton Parish Council will now cover three electoral wards.
“So now we are getting our maps out and constructing a robust reply to the proposals!”
The closing date for representations is 19 October 2015 and can be made via email at [email protected] or by writing to:
Review Officer (Warrington)
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England
14th Floor Millbank Tower
London SW1p 4QP
Further information is available at www.consultation.lgbce.org.uk and select Warrington.
Full details of the review can be seen by CLICKING HERE