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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.

Neston Parkgate wardA 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!


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Mike Shipman
At 17:44 on 4th September 2017, Mike Shipman commented:
Dave Williams is right to raise the concerns he does. It is important to note that the three-councillor ward proposed is NOT contiguous with the Town Council. It includes the rural village of Burton. This makes a nonsense of the submission of the Conservatives, who apparently do not know that Burton is not within Neston Town Council area, and the inclusion of that village helps put the proposed ward 9% over the commission's own target size. If adopted it will further diminish Neston's standing within CWaC - remember its position at the very ouitskirts of the authority.
It is also interesting that the separate wards proposed by the Town Council are very similar to those proposed by the Labour Group although they were determined quite separately. As one of the authors of the recommended response from the Town Council I can attest that many hours of research and consideration went into the proposal.
I do hope that Neston Town Council, of which I am no longer a member, will produce a reasoned rejection of the Boundary Commission's nonsensical proposal.
I do hope as many as possible read the submissions which are published on the website (and in the Town Council's case, also on its own website) and follow Dave Williams's advice and send the Boundary Commission some reasoned objections.
CO Jones
At 20:34 on 4th September 2017, CO Jones commented:
I have to admit, am struggling to fully grasp the devil in the details but understand enough to know I don't like the sound of it.

Is it worth a petition being started as it would probably encourage more people to put their name to it rather than asking them to type a letter.
Mike Shipman
At 14:20 on 6th September 2017, Mike Shipman commented:
CO Jones - petitions tend to be rather blunt instruments when what is needed is reasoned objection. A better idea might be for people to ask their CWaC and Town Council Ward councillors what they are doing about it as our current representatives. They're easy to contact via the Council website.
Robert P
At 12:58 on 9th September 2017, Robert P commented:
I hope people of Neston will write in to object to the proposal for a multi-councillor ward. I much prefer having one person to contact who represents me in my locality. There is too much buck-passing when 3 councillors supposedly share representation.
I am speaking up for single-councillor wards. I hope you do the same.
At 15:03 on 11th September 2017, Lambster commented:
The current situation in L.Neston and Burton should be a salutary lesson. Having two councillors for the ward from two opposing political parties simply does not work well. It didn't when it was the previous twosome, nor for the current. Because councillors from different political parties apparently prefer to score points off each other instead of working together on problems. Ergo, single councillor wards are the better way forward and preferably with more independents like we have in Parkgate.
andy w
At 15:50 on 11th September 2017, andy w commented:
I agree with Lambster about single member wards being the way forward. One person to go to if you have a problem and if they don't do their job vote them out next time. Looking at our area at the moment we have two labour, one conservative and one independent a diverse political make up and I don't see any benefits from one large ward with three councillors most likely from one political party being able to properly represent the whole area
tricia mary
At 11:24 on 15th September 2017, tricia mary commented:
I vote we join the rest of our old friends who left Cheshire and join Merseyside as we would then be entitled to free train passes as well as bus passes.

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