Neston Ward Boundary Changes - a Resident Writes
|Author: Dave Williams||Published: 4th September 2017 09:26|
Further to our report last week relating to the proposed boundary changes affecting the Neston area, resident and AboutMyArea reader Dave Williams writes in with his thoughts on the subject and encourages others to have their say.
Proposals have been made to redraw Neston local electoral boundaries, by the Electoral Boundary Commission.
A map of the proposed new wards for the Neston area.
Presently the wider Neston area has five ward councillors on Cheshire West & Chester Council. Two for the largest ward Little Neston, 1 for Neston, 1 for Parkgate, and 1 for Willaston. This will definitely be reduced to four in the future.
The electoral commission has now published its draft proposals for Neston. It concludes that in future just 1 electoral ward for the local Neston area, called possibly "Neston & Parkgate" will elect three councillors. However it intends to leave the Willaston Ward as it is.
Here's what The Electoral Commission said after a day out in Neston:
"We visited Neston and carefully considered the boundaries proposed. While these were logical in places they were also somewhat arbitrary in others, as the Town Council stated. We consider that the town is a cohesive unit and, given the limited community evidence in the submissions we received, dividing Neston into three wards risks splitting communities unnecessarily. Therefore, we propose to adopt the three-councillor ward proposed by the Conservative Group."
Just Hang On A Minute!
Neston is already divided into three wards. This system recognises local communities and has elected independent, Labour, and Conservative councillors. Neston Town Council actually asked for three individual wards as its first preference and, frankly speaking, wherever you draw a boundary it will end up being arbitrary!
Neston Town Council also asked local people and they said they wanted 3 wards in Neston:
- Cheshire West Labour Party asked for three individual wards as their preferred solution;
- Cheshire West Liberal Democrats asked for three individual wards as their best option;
- Independent councillor Martin Barker for Parkgate Ward also asked for single wards to be maintained on the basis of advice from his ward constituents;
- The Town Council, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all separately submitted suggested map boundaries for the single councillor three Neston wards option which are all pretty similar too.
A Warning From History & Thin Evidence
The new single Neston ward with three councillors proposed by the Cheshire West Conservatives and accepted by the boundary commission has actually existed before in the old Cheshire County Council between 1973 and 2009 electing one councillor. The Conservatives held this Neston seat for 28 out of 36 years and usually comfortably.
Here too is the the totality of written evidence given by Cheshire West & Chester Conservatives that helped convince the commission of their case to go "back to the future" as it were: "The ward would (sic) proposed would be contiguous with the boundaries of the Neston Town Council allowing a co-ordinated approach to local government representation. The boundaries are essentially the Borough boundary and the A550."
Irrespective of the grammatical error there, one that anyone can make, it is an argument that can fairly be described as a bit thin!
The electoral commission has referred to the lack of community evidence in the submissions they have received to date. It seems plain, at least on historical evidence from 1973 to 2009 that if Neston wants to avoid being steamrollered into the creation of a likely safe conservative seat for three councillors to occupy for another unspecified lengthy period they really need to make their views known to the Local Electoral Boundary Commission.
The people of Neston need to speak up, and quickly too!