Published: January 21, 2010
Anger over 'misguided' proposals to split up local council boundaries

A town councillor has this week expressed his shock at "misguided" proposals to split up the boundary lines between council seats across the Burnham-On-Sea area.

Cllr Chris Williams, pictured, told that the proposals from the Boundary Committee for England and Wales have not been properly considered.

He said: "I want to register my complete disbelief on the initial proposals of the Boundary Committee for England for Sedgemoor."

"Despite a logical and time-consuming response from the Town Council based on 'factors of community cohesion', the Committee have proposed splitting Highbridge so that all areas south of the River Brue are allocated to the district seat of the Huntspills and naming the seat Burnham South."

He added: "The Boundary Committee has also failed to appreciate that the housing developments in the Wallace Wells Road, Cookson Close and Mulholland Park areas fall directly within the 'urban' remit of Burnham and Highbridge. Under the current proposals these areas within the parish of Burnham Without would become part of the District Seat of Mark and Wedmore."

"I can reassure all residents of Highbridge that as an independent town councillor for Highbridge these completely misguided suggestions will be opposed as strongly as possible."

"At present, the redrafting of boundaries looks more like a number crunching exercise and drawing of lines on maps without any first had visits to the communites involved."

However, Electoral Commission spokesman Gareth Nicholson told "The Committee has made no proposals for redrawing ward boundaries in Burnham-On-Sea. The Committee is carrying out an electoral review of Sedgemoor District Council. The first stage of that process began on 26 October 2009. That stage is a public consultation where we ask local residents, town and parish councils, businesses, and the District Council, to tell us what their council should look like. Our role is to set the number of councillors who sit on the authority and the number and boundaries of the council's electoral wards."

"This is a real consultation. We ask people to submit proposals backed up with evidence to us. We then consider those proposals. That stage concluded on 18 January. Our work now is to look at all the evidence with which we've been provided and draw up a set of draft recommendations on what the council size and division boundaries should be. Once those draft recommendations have been drawn up, in late Spring, we'll publish them and run further consultation so people can comment on the proposals and make them as good as they can be. Once that process has concluded, we publish final recommendations and make an Order in Parliament to implement the new arrangements."

"We carry out electoral reviews to set local boundary arrangements that are fair and provide for electoral equality. It's important to have fair local boundaries that ensure that each councillor represents around the same number of people. At the moment in Sedgemoor, that's not the case. For example, Sandford ward has 56% more electors per councillor than the average in Sedgemoor, whereas Huntspill & Pawlett has 16% fewer."

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