Fewer Wealden councillors will lessen burden on taxpayers

Updated: 3.30pm, September 28

Proposals for fewer Wealden district councillors from 2019 will save money.

BobStandley

Cllr Bob Standley, Leader of Wealden District Council

It will held reduce the council’s administrative costs “which have to be met by the local taxpayer”, the council said in a statement.

The council said it was pleased the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) had adopted its proposals to reduce the number of councillors.

Details of commission’s proposals as they affect the Uckfield area are contained within the story below, published yesterday.

In a statement issued today, Wealden District Council said:

Following a year-long consultation process, the LGBCE has published its final recommendations, which if approved by Parliament, will mean there will be 45 seats up for election to Wealden District Council in 2019.

Councillor Bob Standley, Leader of Wealden District Council, said: “We are pleased that the boundary commission has adopted the council’s proposal to reduce the number of councillors representing the District from 55 to 45.

Single member wards

“Our Overview and Scrutiny Committee worked hard to find a proposal that increased the number of single member wards while ensuring communities were properly represented.

“The final recommendations from the Local Government Boundary Commission mean there will be 41 electoral wards in the district.

“Four of these will still be two member wards.

Parish council boundaries

“All the ward boundaries will be changed but the proposal should ensure that electors do not lose a sense of belonging.

“Parish council boundaries are not affected by these changes.

“The predominance of one councillor wards is a less complicated arrangement with residents having a clearer line of communication with their local councillor.

County-wide review

“Fewer councillors will also help to reduce administrative costs which have to be met by the local taxpayer.”

The recommendations are the result of  a review of electoral arrangements across the whole of East Sussex. Under the LBGCE’s final recommendation, the estimated average number of electors per councillor in Wealden in 2021 will be 2,894.

Our original story published on September 27

Final recommendations for new electoral arrangements for East Sussex County Council and Wealden District Council have been published by the independent Local Government Boundary Commission.local-government-boundary-commission-england

Today’s publication follows a public consultation on its draft proposals earlier this year and draws new boundaries for each county electoral division and district or borough ward across East Sussex.

The Commission’s final recommendations propose that East Sussex should be represented by 50 county councillors in the future: one more than the current arrangement.

The recommendations also propose that Wealden District Council should have 45 councillors in future: ten fewer than the current arrangements.

The commission has amended proposals published in March so that the Shortbridge area of Piltdown and the parish of Isfield should be included in a ward with the parish of Fletching rather than being part of an Uckfield ward.

This has resulted in some changes to boundaries of wards in Uckfield. The remainder of what would have been the Uckfield West with Isfield ward is now recommended to be joined with the proposed Uckfield New Town ward to create a new two-member ward named Uckfield New Town.

This proposed ward would have similar external boundaries as proposed as part of the draft recommendations, but exclude the more rural areas to the west.

There were calls for the parish of Little Horsted to be included in the proposed Danehill and Fletching ward rather than the proposed Uckfield Ridgewood and Little Horsted ward but this change was not considered to be justified.

The suggested alternative solution would have seen the northern area of the Danehill and Fletching ward moved into the proposed Forest Row ward but this would have resulted in a variance of 16% for Forest Row and -17% for the remaining Uckfield Ridgewood and Little Horsted ward. No solution was provided to rectify these very high variances.

The Local Government Boundary Commission says in its report: “We consider therefore that placing Little Horsted in Danehill and Fletching would have detrimental effects to other wards within the district that cannot be justified based on the evidence received.”

The proposed wards would have the following number of Wealden councillors:

  • Uckfield East, one
  • Uckfield New Town, two
  • Uckfield North, one
  • Uckfield Ridgewood and Little Horsted, one

Existing wards covering Uckfield at present, with current sitting councillors, are:

  • Uckfield Central, one member – Cllr Claire Dowling
  • Uckfield New Town, one member – Cllr Helen Firth
  • Uckfield North, two members – Cllrs Carol Reynolds and Peter Waldock
  • Uckfield Ridgewood, one member – Cllr Barry Marlowe

The Local Government Boundary Commission map below shows the proposed new Uckfield wards.

local-gov-boundary-commission-map-uckfield-wards

Proposed Uckfield wards within Wealden District Council.

Proposed village wards, each having one Wealden councillor would be Buxted, Danehill and Fletching, Framfield and Cross-in-Hand, Hadlow Down and Rotherfield and Maresfield, see map below.

local-gov-boundary-commission-map-village-wards

Proposed village wards within Wealden District Council, west.

Within the county council area three wards are proposed, each with one councillor. They are Maresfield and Buxted, Uckfield North and Uckfield South with Framfield. See the Local Government Boundary Commission map below.

local-gov-boundary-commission-map-uckfield-wards-county

Map showing the proposed local wards within the Wealden area of East Sussex County Council.

The current Uckfield area county council wards are: Framfield and Horam (Cllr Chris Dowling), Uckfield (Cllr Claire Dowling), and Buxted and Maresfield (Cllr Roy Galley).

For all the other councils in East Sussex – Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes and Rother – the Commission proposes to retain the current number of district or borough councillors.

The new boundaries mean that, for each local authority area, councillors will represent roughly the same number of voters, and wards or electoral divisions will reflect the shape of local communities.

Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said, “We are extremely grateful to people across East Sussex who took the time and effort to send us their views. The Commission considered every piece of evidence it received before finalising these recommendations.

“Across the county, we have sought to balance the views expressed to us by local people with the criteria we must apply when we are deciding on new electoral arrangements. As such, we believe these recommendations deliver electoral equality for voters as well as reflecting the identities of communities in East Sussex.”

Full details and maps of the final recommendations are available on the Commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk.

The proposed new arrangements must now be implemented by Parliament. A draft order – the legal document which brings into force the recommendations – will be laid in Parliament in the coming months.

If both Houses are satisfied with the recommendations, the draft order will be ‘made’ and the new boundaries will come into effect at the next local elections, namely in 2017 for East Sussex County Council; 2018 for Hastings Borough Council; and 2019 for Eastbourne Borough Council, Lewes District Council, Rother District Council and Wealden District Council.

Full details of the Commission’s final recommendations (including maps) can be seen here:

East Sussex County Council

Wealden District Council

• This review is a separate undertaking from the review of parliamentary constituency boundaries which was reported on Uckfield News on September 15 here: Wealden seat in House of Commons could disappear.

See also:

Uckfield firefighter Ian Ritchie retires after 36 years

Car boot sale will help with fund-raising at Holy Cross School

Why many residents’ objections to planning applications fail

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on UckfieldNews.com

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