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.