MPs Lucy Frazer and Steve Barclay urged by East Cambs councillor to intervene to halt boundary commission proposed changes
PUBLISHED: 11:50 15 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:50 15 February 2016
MPs Steve Barclay and Lucy Frazer are being urged to challenge Boundary Commission proposals for changes to county council seats in East Cambridgeshire.
Councillor Anna Bailey, who represents Ely South & West and is a district councillor for the Downham villages, said: “We are appalled at the final outcome that the commission is proposing.
“In particular, the new ‘super division’ of Littleport West will seriously suppress democracy and wipe out any hope of independent councillors being able to stand for election.”
Cllr Bailey said the commission “has totally ignored the local responses made to the public consultation, failed to follow its own guidelines and has made a mockery of the statutory requirement to reflect local community interests and identities”.
She added: “It is particularly galling, as we submitted a proposal that is vastly more sympathetic to the dynamics of local communities and offers a more balanced approach to the guiding principles and statutory requirements laid down by the commission.”
She said local Tories had written to the commission asking for a review and have urged both MPs to “speak and vote against it when it is put before Parliament”.
The commission has recently undertaken a review of Cambridgeshire County Council and has published its final proposals which now have to be ratified by Parliament before they become final.
Once ratified, the changes will take effect at the next county council election in May 2017.
The proposal includes plans for a new county council division called Littleport West, which will have two councillors and which will include the parishes of Coveney, Little Downham, Haddenham, Mepal, Stretham, Sutton, Little Thetford, Wentworth, Wilburton, Witcham and Witchford, and parts of Littleport and Ely.
Cllr Bailey said: “This means that the elected representatives will be trying to work with 13 parish councils, many of which are highly rural in nature.”
In October 2014 the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) opened their first round of consultation on their proposals; 43 responses were received in relation to East Cambs from local residents, city and parish councils, county and district councillors, East Cambs District Council, political groups and MPs.
Of these, 0 responses supported the LGBCE proposal, 36 were against the proposal and seven did not say either way.
Cllr Bailey said complaints about the proposed size of the divisions, especially the proposal for Littleport West were common; there was also large support for single member divisions.
She said the alternative proposal for nine councillors submitted by East Cambs District Council addressed both these issues.
“Although not united in the fine detail, all three main political parties (Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) agreed that the option of nine councillors for East Cambs provided a better solution and would better reflect natural communities that exist,” said Cllr Bailey.
She said that despite the strength of feeling against the proposals the boundary commission “has made no material amendments to take account of consultation responses”.
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