East Cambs set to vote some of themselves out of a job as councillors meet to agree to reduce members from 39 to 28

28 wards proposed for East Cambs District Council; down from 39

28 wards proposed for East Cambs District Council; down from 39 - Credit: Archant

A special meeting of East Cambs District Council has been called to ratify proposals to reduce the number of councillors from 39 to 28.

The meeting will consider new electoral wards and a reduced number of councillors with effect from the next election in four years time.

Earlier this year the council opted to consider reducing the number of councillors to 27 but have changed their mind following work by a team headed by chief executive John Hill.

The council has to submit its final proposals to the Local Boundary Commission by the end of the month and so have called the special meeting for Thursday.

Sally Bonnett, infrastructure and projects officer, will tell councillors that that although 27 members “is the best fit in terms of providing effective and convenient local government” the increase to 28 meets other Government criteria.

“All councillors have had the opportunity to input into the development of the proposed warding arrangements,” she says.

“The feedback from councillors has shaped the final proposals.”

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Ms Bonnett says the council believes membership of 28 would allow Ely parish to remain intact by adding a seventh councillor, enable Wicken to remain in a Soham ward and allow Burrough Green to be incorporated within the Dullingham ward.

The proposal is based on a projected electorate of 71,650 for the district in 2020 which takes into account expected new developments and projected population growth.

At a recent ECDC warding proposal meeting, which received cross-party support, the following proposals were suggested for each ward.

Ms Bonnet says for some wards the council has proposed new names “adopting a pragmatic approach of using the names of larger settlements to define wards”.

The new wards will be (number of councillors in brackets)

Wooditton (2)

Bottisham (2)

Burwell (2)

To remain a separate ward that is not warded in order to reflect and retain the village’s identity.

Fordham (1)

Fordham and Snailwell

To form a single member ward so the Newmarket facing boundary remains in the same ward.

Isleham (1)

To be extended to include Chippenham and Kennett to allow it to remain a single member ward.

Soham (4)

To retain the north-south split, amended to reflect changes in council size and the electorate. Wicken to remain part of the Soham south ward.

Wicken parish council had expressed a strong desire to remain within Soham south because they rely on the nearby town for doctors, post offices, banking, shopping and schools.

Ely (7)

The city will retain Ely only wards. New north Ely development and surrounding area will form a two-member ward, with the remainder of the parish being split to create a two-member ward to the east and a three-member ward to the west. Keeping Ely only wards will eliminate any confusion created if part of the parish falls within a different ward.

Littleport (3)

Parish to be un-warded to create a three-member ward. The parish council said the village was enjoying significant growth including three new schools and additional commercial development. Dividing the parish into wards would have resulted in unbalanced workloads; the district council agrees.

Downham Villages (1)

To become a single member ward comprising Little Downham, Pymoor and Coveney.

The villages share “ancient community links” says the council “including local droves and community life”. They also point out the three villages share a history community archive group, church services, the same internal drainage – and an annual scarecrow display.

Stretham (2)

Stretham, Little Thetford, Witchford and Wilburton All form a catchment for Witchford Village College. Proposal to form a two-member ward

Haddenham (1)

Haddenham and Aldreth to comprise a single member ward reflecting the local identity and links of the parish.

Sutton (2)

To form a two-member ward consisting of Sutton, Mepal, Witcham and Wentworth. Councillors believe the forecast electorate for Sutton is too large to become a ward itself so rather than split the parish it is better to have a two member ward. The villages which it will connect with share many facilities.