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Local views ignored in Warrington boundaries carve-up

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THE independent Local Government Boundary Commission has today published its final recommendations for re-shaping Warrington’s electoral map – and appears to have almost totally ignored the views of local people.
Among the more controversial proposals the commission is making in its final recommendations is that Lymm should be split in two but also “take over” most of Thelwall and part of Grappenhall.
In addition, changes to ward boundaries elsewhere in south Warrington will result in Appleton Thorn being moved out of Appleton and into Grappenhall and the villages of Hatton, Stretton and Walton disappearing from the electoral map.
This effectively means that despite the borough council being increased from 57 to 58 seats, Conservative Group leader Cllr Paul Kennedy will be left without a seat!.
The commission’s final recommendations do not appear to have been significantly changed from their draft proposals, published earlier this year, which united Warrington’s three political parties in as much as they all opposed them.
The proposals take into account Warrington’s projected population by 2020, when it is predicted the electorate will have grown to 168,901 compared to the current 163,078.
This will mean that each councillor will, on average, represent 2,912 voters compared with 2,812 at present.
The commission says its recommendations will result in no wards have an electoral variance of more than 10 per cent from the average for the borough. The council will have 14 three-member wards and eight two-member wards.
The proposed new arrangements must now be approved by Parliament. A draft order – the legal document which brings into force the recommendations – will be laid in Parliament in the coming months. The draft Order provides for the new electoral arrangements to come into force at the council elections next year, when the council will switch to having “all-out” elections every four years rather than election by thirds every year.
The borough council is also carrying out a consultation on a review of polling districts, which will start on December 14 and run until January 8.
Today’s announcement will anger many councillors in South Warrington.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Bob Barr and Ian Marks, recently elected chairman of Warrington Liberal Democrats, both strongly opposed the changes at the draft stage.
They believe the changes take no account of long established local communities such as Lymm, Thelwall, Grappenhall, Appleton and Stockton Heath.

ian-marks-thelwall

Ian Marks at the entrance to Thelwall

Paul-Kennedy-with-Stretton-sign

Cllr Paul Kennedy at Stretton, which will disappear from the electoral map

 

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  1. I make no apologies paraphrasing below the preamble to what is essentially THE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO THE LOCALISM BILL, because it and this decision of the Boundary Commission clearly demonstrate politicians don’t always mean what they appear to say….

    “The time has come to disperse power more widely in Britain today.”
    The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, Coalition Agreement, May 2010
    For too long, central government has hoarded and concentrated power. Trying to improve people’s lives by imposing decisions, setting targets and demanding inspections from Whitehall simply doesn’t work. It creates bureaucracy. It leaves no room for adaptation to reflect local circumstances or innovation to deliver services more effectively and at lower cost. And it leaves people feeling ‘done to’ and imposed upon – the very opposite of the sense of participation and involvement on which a healthy democracy thrives.
    I have long believed there is a better way of doing things. Eight years ago I wrote a book called Total Politics which set out the case for a huge shift in power – from central Whitehall, to local public servants, and from bureaucrats to communities and individuals.
    Today, I am proud to be part of a Government putting this vision into practice. We think that the best means of strengthening society is not for central government to try and seize all the power and responsibility for itself. It is to help people and their locally elected representatives to achieve their own ambitions. This is the essence of the Big Society.
    We have already begun to pass power back to where it belongs. We are cutting central targets on councils, easing the burden of inspection, and reducing red tape. We are breaking down the barriers that stop councils, local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups getting things done for themselves….”

  2. Whatever one’s stance might be on the issue of boundary changes, it’s an insult to the intelligence of the general public when Bob Barr and Ian Marks make claims to be concerned about local peoples views! These two were the main driving force in the bid to sell off Walton Hall and Gardens, the demolition of the Victorian Stockton Heath Primary and many other projects around the town which local communities were strongly opposed to! It seems to me that their reason for not wanting electoral boundary changes might be more to do with them trying to protect their own interests rather than any consideration for the public view’s!

    • Your comments Sha, on Walton Hall and Gardens etc. put a different slant on the metaphorical tears shed in the local press by Bob Barr over the sudden “surprising” demise of the locally listed Ship Inn in Walton. And seem to reinforce the view that politicians – local and national – don’t always mean what they appear to say.

    • So much for democracy when those elected to represent the views of the people go behind closed doors and immediately do the exact opposite of what they publicly promised to do. After their antics in the town hall I think Bob Barr and Ian Marks professing concern for the ‘views of the public’ is just hypocritical! Also, in a democratic society one may comment and if so inclined criticise the words of politicians, being confined to just passively listening is what would be termed a Dictatorship.

  3. The population of Warrington are heartbroken that the privileged few in South Warrington will no longer have their own special councillors. It is especially distressing that Councillor Kennedy who has shown such interest in the life of the town will no longer have a seat.

    • “The population of Warrington” would be even more heartbroken if the “privileged few in South Warrington” were ever to be given the opportunity to leave the auspices of the failure which is WBC entirely – and return to Cheshire, taking all the funding they provide with them!

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