Major review into councillor numbers backed by Wychavon chiefs - The Evesham Observer

Major review into councillor numbers backed by Wychavon chiefs

Evesham Editorial 20th Apr, 2018   0

A MAJOR review of the number of councillors on Wychavon District Council for the first time in nearly 20 years has been given the thumbs up by council chiefs.

Councillors approved a call from former leader Coun Paul Middlebrough for the authority’s executive board to decide whether a review of the exisiting boundaries across Wychavon should be carried out.

Should council chiefs agree to examine the matter futher, the council will contact the Local Government Boundary Commission to carry out a review into the boundaries and the amount of elected members on the authority.

Wychavon reduced the amount of councillors from 49 to 45 in time for the 2003 elections and any changes would not take place until the elections in May 2023.

Coun Middlebrough told the council meeting his proposal was a ‘straightforward debate’

“This is about democracy, the right balance and fairness of representation, nothing more than that,” he said.

“It will be 20 years of change, the various developments are changing the size of our district and also changing the balance of where the population lives.

“The question is do we have the right number of councillors and are the ward boundaries in the right place and the right size. Many councils across the country have reduced the number of councillors with some quite close to us reducing them quite dramatically.

Currently Wychavon’s 45 councillors serve 32 wards with neighbouring Worcester City Council electing 35 members across 15 wards while Malvern Hills District Council has 38 councillors across 22 wards.

A Local Government Boundary Commssion review saw Bromsgrove District Council slash the number of councillors from 39 to 31 at the 2015 election.

Coun Martin King broadly supported the proposal and said: “The question of numbers is always an emotive issue. I have looked into the point with regard to my own ward.

“Over the period since the boundaries were last redrawn, we have had a 65 per cent increase in the number of houses and that’s before all the developments are finished.

“You don’t have to look very far from the Bengeworth ward to find others under similar pressure, both Great Hampton and Little Hampton and Evesham North to a certain extent.

“We can’t just brush it aside and say ‘well it might not suit some people to look at boundaries’.”

Coun Liz Tucker urged caution and highlighted the amount of work which would be needed to implement a review and any changes proposed.

“I do think we ought to think very seriously before going down the road of thinking ‘fewer numbers is good’, the good bit is communities with people who understand what is going on in their area,” she said.

“I agree we are in a time of great growth and I am not sure the consequences of such growth will be fully understood in the time frame Paul is talking about.”

* What do you think? E-mail [email protected] with your views

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