Boundary plans a dogs breakfast

WHEN the Boundary Committee for England published their proposals for Suffolk's new county council divisions it really set the cat among the pigeons.Frankly it looks like a real dog's breakfast.

WHEN the Boundary Committee for England published their proposals for Suffolk's new county council divisions it really set the cat among the pigeons.

Frankly it looks like a real dog's breakfast.

I can understand the logic of slimming the county down from 80 to 75 members, despite the county itself wanting to expand to 90 members.

But the way the Boundary Committee has gone about drawing lines with no regard for local relationships is a complete joke.


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Look at Ipswich.

They've had to create 13 county council seats out of 16 borough council divisions.

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Their proposal is to come up with a cocktail of mix-and-match wards - some with more than one seat.

However in drawing up these proposals they've had no regard for the fact that there are two parliamentary constituencies in Ipswich - they plan to split put half of Castle Hill ward (in the North Ipswich constituency) in with St Margarets and Westgate (in the Ipswich constituency).

So one councillor will be expected to straddle two constituencies. The same will happen at Needham and at Haughley and Mendlesham in Mid Suffolk.

For good measure they also seem to have forgotten Southwold is now in the Suffolk Coastal constituency and has lumped it in with Kessingland which is in the Waveney constituency.

There's no hard and fast rule on this - but it has always been the convention that council divisions don't straddle parliamentary boundaries.

That seems to have been jettisoned by the Boundary Committee now.

WHEN looking down the list of new divisions proposed for Ipswich, one name stuck out rather.

Most of Alexandra and Holywells wards would be combined to form a new county council seat called . . . University Division!

I rang the Boundary Committee for England to find out if they knew something we didn't!

“It seemed a good name because University College Suffolk is in the middle of that division,” a spokeswoman told me.

“It isn't called University College now, but there are hopes that we'll get a university in Ipswich eventually,” I explained. “Does this have anything to do with that?”

“Oh, we don't know anything about that. Our map just has it down as University College Suffolk,” she explained.

Which begs the question: If the Boundary Committee is using out of date maps to draw up its proposals, how old is the rest of its data?

DURING the Ipswich by-election campaign in 2001, Labour's Chris Mole constantly had to tell voters that he was not John Mowles, who had just retired as the long-standing party agent in the constituency.

Over the last two and a bit years he's become well-known enough in the town in his own right - but he still seems to have a bit of an identity problem in the senior ranks of the Labour party.

Earlier this week I was chatting at a social event to a senior Labour official, who asked where I was from.

When I told her I was from Ipswich, she immediately remembered it as the by-election seat.

“Mr Moles is the new MP there, isn't he,” she said.

“Chris Mole, yes,” I replied.

“I don't suppose he had any recognition problems in the constituency - he seemed to have been there for ever before he became MP,” she replied.

I agreed that Mr Mole had become well-known as county council leader for eight years before his election to Westminster.

“But he was also the Labour party agent in the town for ages - local knowledge is very important,” she said.

I then had to explain again the difference between Mowles and Mole.

Next time the Ipswich MP goes to his party conference, perhaps he should wear a badge saying: “I have never been a party agent!”

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