Mixed reaction to boundaries changes

IN FAVOUR: Councillor Paul Thompson and (opposed t recommendations) Councillor Arthur Preece
IN FAVOUR: Councillor Paul Thompson and (opposed t recommendations) Councillor Arthur Preece

COUNCILLORS have given a mixed reaction to final recommendations to re-named and re-drawn ward boundaries.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has recommended Hartlepool Borough Council slash the number of councillors from 47 to 33 serving 11 instead of 17 wards.

The plans, which are subject to final approval by Parliament, would see three members in each ward.

The new wards are set to be called Hart, De Bruce, Jesmond, Victoria, Headland and Harbour, Burn Valley, Foggy Furze, Manor House, Fens and Rossmere, Seaton and Rural West.

Speaking on behalf of the Labour group, councillor Ged Hall, said he was not happy with the reduction as it would increase the workload of councillors and that he recognised some people would not be happy that certain areas have been merged.

The Burn Valley ward councillor added: “Labour councillors will continue to work hard whatever the ward boundaries may be.

“While we are not happy with some of the changes, we do accept what the commission has said and it is business as usual as far as we are concerned.”

Conservative group leader Ray Wells, who represents the Park ward, said: “While we did not originally support the reduction of the numbers of councillors we are obviously bound by the decisions and are more than happy to work within the new framework.

“We understand that not everybody is delighted with the new names and I am somewhat disappointed that the word Park has been removed entirely. But we do accept that it has now been included within a much wider rural setting and we welcome that.

“We look forward to giving the people of the villages and rural areas the opportunity to now have three ward councillors for the price of one.”

Councillor Arthur Preece, group leader of the Liberal Democrats and Fens councillor, said: “The whole concept of creating gigantic constituencies to replace wards of a manageable size is unsound.

“The size of the wards does not fit with the community of Hartlepool.

“It will also result in a huge increase in the workload of councillors.”

But independent councillor for Seaton, Paul Thompson, welcomed the reduction in councillors.

He added: “I am delighted that the Seaton ward, which has a strong community feel, will retain its historic name.”

Shane Moore, chairman of Hartlepool Conservative Future, said he was “disappointed” with the St Hilda ward changing to the Headland and Harbour ward.

He added: “Despite the commission admitting in their report that ‘the Headland clearly has little in common with the marina and station areas’, and against the wishes of those affected, they have gone ahead and merged this ward with the Marina and part of Stranton.”

The draft proposals published in March were subject to a 12-week consultation.

A draft order – the legal document which brings into force the recommendations – will be laid in Parliament later this year.

If approved they will be in place for the all-out election next May.

The LGBCE is an independent body which carries out electoral reviews of local authority areas.

For more details visit www.lgbce.org.uk