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Boundary review is not time to play politics, councillor warns

A councillor has warned it “isn’t a time to play politics” as Lichfield District Council deals with a review of ward boundaries.

The local authority is having to redraw its voting map after the Local Government Boundary Commission of England (LGBCE) recommended reducing the number of councillors from 56 to 47.

This would mean that wards needed to have councillors representing roughly the same amount of voters.

The controlling Conservative group on Lichfield District Council submitted alternative plans to the opposition Labour group at a recent meeting.

But Cllr Steve Norman, leader of the Labour group, said the Tory plans were designed to harm his party, with an amendment to the Burntwood boundaries including “the deletion of Labour’s strongest ward”.

Doug Pullen

Doug Pullen

However, Fazeley Conservative representative, Cllr Doug Pullen, said the opposition proposal had risked alienating part of his own ward – and accused them of putting their own interests before those of the community.

“At the full council meeting I voted for one of two options that we were presented with,” said Cllr Pullen. “The option I rejected was the one devised by Labour.

“Their proposal inexplicably annexed the Sutton Road/Gainsborough drive estate from Fazeley ward and put it at the very edge of what is now the Bourne Vale ward. Rather than being represented by a Fazeley councillor, this proposal would isolate the estate and would risk it becoming a hinterland of a large rural ward.

“The Boundary Review isn’t a time to play politics, so I was unable to support a proposal which so blatantly put Labour’s interests ahead of those of the community.”

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  1. Councillor Steven Norman

    7th March, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    There have been a number of meetings of the cross party working group looking at these difficult issues and where in fact we only had ONE (I’ll repeat that, ONE) representative. It’s not our fault if the Conservative Group is so disorganised that they don’t talk to each other and then think it is okay to produce a paper that did not get discussed at any of the Working Group meetings or even for two minutes at the full committee! They couldn’t even get there act together to even propose anything at the Council meeting – I had to!

    As with the Council Tax proposals (and their poor attendance) and the fact that their reps are being moved around every few meetings its hard to know if they are indeed a coherent Group and that their Leader speaks for them. We have made the case at the Working Group and in the submission and will leave it to the Local Government Boundary Commission to consider.

  2. Roy Boffy

    7th March, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    As I understand it, both Parties largely agreed the Warding proposals for Burntwood and Lichfield City at the Working Group. The Tories reneged on the Burntwood agreement at the Licensing and Regulatory Committee without warning or discussion, setting out proposals that entirely ignored coherent communities within Burntwood for, presumably, their own political advantage. In the circumstances, it’s a bit rich for Cllr Pullen to complain that the Labour proposals for Fazeley are designed to advantage that Party. The need for equality of representation is paramount and leads to some difficulties, particularly in the rural areas. The Labour proposals have striven to maintain the principle of equality and to ensure that coherent communities are kept together within the new Warding arrangements. We shall see whether the Boundary Commission agrees in due course, or whether they prefer the Tories’ strained attempts to protect their own seats.

  3. Councillor Glen Mynott

    8th March, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    It’s a bit rich of Councillor Pullen to accuse the Labour Group of trying to play politics over the Local Government Boundary Commission review when it was the Conservative Group who at the last minute introduced changes that had not been discussed by the cross party working group (comprising five conservative councillors and one Labour member). The Conservative Group’s proposals for Fazeley and the rural wards are unacceptable to us as they offer better representation to small affluent villages than to urban areas such as Fazeley which contain areas of social deprivation.

    Under the Conservative proposals there would be 1574 electors for each councillor in the village of Little Aston and 1680 electors per councillor in rural Bourne Vale whereas there would be 2057 electors for each councillor in Fazeley. We think this is unfair and puts the residents of Fazeley at a disadvantage to those in Little Aston and Bourne Vale. By proposing to transfer the Gainsborough Drive estate and the far end of Sutton Road into Bourne Vale ward we are trying to equalise the size of the wards and make them more representative of the size of their communities. I can understand why the Tories would like to see affluent rural areas more generously represented than Fazeley but this review is about ensuring equitability of representation. Now we need to wait for the Boundary Commission to make their recommendations.