Published: October 26, 2010
What a carve up! Burnham councillors fume over boundary changes

Controversial changes to the parish boundaries across the Burnham-On-Sea area have been attacked by councillors this week.

The sweeping changes, announced by the Local Government Boundary Commission on Tuesday, will see the Brent Knoll electoral ward carved up into smaller areas, while the Alstone area of Highbridge will be removed from the Huntspill ward and added into the Highbridge and Marine electoral area.

The government hopes the changes will lead to the number of voters represented by each ward councillor being approximately the same across Sedgemoor.

However, Brent Knoll district councillor Bob Filmer, pictured above, told "I am very disappointed that the Boundary Commission have chosen to ignore the views of the local representatives and the Parish and District Councils."

"They have also ignored their own advice to create more single member wards so that local councillors can be held directly responsible for their own record. This review has turned out to be simply a numbers game, with community wishes and identities thrown out the window."

"My current ward, Knoll Ward, will be carved up, with part added to a new Burnham Central Ward, part to a new Highbridge and Marine Ward and the rest added to the villages of Lympsham, East Brent and East Huntspill - a proposal that was strongly opposed by all those involved."

"It results with the crazy situation that the area covered by Burnham Without Parish Council will be split into three wards with two parish councillors for two wards and three for the other one. That same area of three wards will also be represented at District Level by two wards of three councillors and the other one of two. You couldn't make it up."

There are also changes to the south of Highbridge, where the Alstone area is being removed from the Huntspill Ward and added into the Highbridge and Marine Ward, which again was opposed locally.

Highbridge's Cllr Joe Leach told "What a complete mess. The Local Government Boundary Commission is just playing a numbers game, to change the number of councillors, and hasn't probably considered the impact on our communities. It will create a very interesting election next May."

The proposed changes must now be implemented by Parliament to come into effect. An Order – the legal document which brings into force the recommendations – will be laid in Parliament in the next few weeks. The draft order allows for the new electoral arrangements to come into force for the next council elections in May 2011.

Max Caller, Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE), said: "Our recommendations determine how many councillors will serve on the council. They also decide which wards you vote in. We're grateful to the people across Sedgemoor who took the time and effort to send us their views because having fair wards, where each councillor is representing around the same number of people, is important."

Click here to access all the documents regarding the boundary changes.


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