Full changes to Babergh and Mid Suffolk wards unveiled in final recommendation
PUBLISHED: 00:01 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:35 07 August 2018
Final recommendations for a shake up of council ward boundaries in Babergh and Mid Suffolk have been published – with the number of seats set to reduce by 17.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England unveiled the final recommendations today following a thorough series of consultations.
The recommendations propose 32 councillors for Babergh – 11 fewer than there are currently, while the number at Mid Suffolk will drop by six to 34.
The proposals mean that every single ward as it stands will change in some form.
Changes since the last proposal
Since the previous proposals in March, some slight changes have been recommended.
• In Babergh, the Wattisham parish will be part of the North West Cosford ward, rather than South East Cosford ward as previously put forward. This is because of community ties.
• Also in Babergh, objections were raised to proposals for a three-councillor Berners ward. It will now be split into three single-councillor wards known as Ganges, Orwell and Stour.
• In Mid Suffolk, the parish of Redlingfield will be included in the Eye ward instead of Hoxne and Worlingworth. Again this is due to community ties.
Professor Colin Mellors, chairman of the Commission, said, “We are extremely grateful to people across Babergh and Mid Suffolk who took part in the review.
“The Commission has looked at all the evidence that was put forward during each stage of consultation.
“We believe these recommendations deliver electoral fairness for voters as well as reflecting community ties throughout Babergh and Mid Suffolk.”
The final order will now be put forward to Parliament in the coming weeks and be implemented for the council elections in May 2019.
Lib Dem reaction
The Liberal Democrat group said it was pleased the boundary commission had accepted some of its recommendations, but still raised concerns over councillor representation and differences with county council divisions.
Penny Otton said: “We remain concerned that democratic representation will be diminished.
“With a cabinet system of local government it makes it much harder for non-cabinet members to be fully informed and aware of all decisions being made.
“The Liberal Democrats are pleased that the boundary commission has accepted some of our recommendations, but are still concerned where the new ward boundaries are not co-terminus with Suffolk County Council divisions, which will lead to further confusion for residents.
“This is a major reorganisation of ward boundaries for the district and it is essential that these are published clearly.”
The opposition Green group at Mid Suffolk has described the boundary changes as “unsatisfactory” – with particular concern that some closely linked communities will now be represented by separate councillors.
The group said that there were more wards than necessary that had two councillors, meaning that proper accountability to those councillors from the voters would be more difficult.
Elsewhere, issues were raised with the data the boundaries are based on, which the party said did not take into account subsequent planning approvals and expected growth in certain communities.
Rachel Eburne, Green group leader, said: “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.”
Spokesmen from both Babergh and Mid Suffolk Conservative groups have been approached for comment, but were unavailable at the time of going to press.