Chorley villages in bid to stay bound together
Chorley Council is set to ask for a rethink of proposed boundary changes which would split two historically-linked areas of the borough.
Under the plan, developed by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE), the village of Heskin would join a new ward for Croston and Mawdesley - in spite of traditionally being tied to Eccleston for both electoral and social purposes.
A special committee of councillors will be presented with six options next week which would keep the two areas together. It will then decide which of the proposals should be submitted to the LGBCE, the organisation responsible for periodically redrawing the electoral map for councils across the country.
But all of the suggestions would breach the LGBCE’s stipulation that none of the wards in the borough should be ten percent larger or smaller than the average.
Work to realign Chorley’s ward boundaries began last summer - a process which is designed roughly to equalise the number of potential voters in each part of the district.
It is the first time new wards will have been created since the 1970s, but housing developments have seen some current wards balloon in size over recent years - Astley and Buckshaw is now 37 percent larger than average.
While several councillors have raised concerns about previous proposals, none has been more controversial than the future of Heskin. Electoral review committee member Cllr Alan Whittaker said last year that any attempt to separate the village from Eccleston would be “bonkers”.
Papers to be presented to the committee say that “a strong case” would have to be submitted to persuade the LGBCE to deviate from the average ward size created by their proposals - which stands at 6.439 electors.
Under the six alternatives drawn up by council officers, all would create at least one ward which would fall foul of the ten percent rule.
The most simplistic solution - transplanting Heskin wholesale from Croston and Mawdesley into the new Eccleston, Charnock Richard and Euxton South ward - would leave the former 20 percent smaller and the latter 13 percent bigger than the average.
Other options include offsetting such a move by shifting parts of neighbouring wards across the LGBCE's suggested boundaries. All of the other proposed ward boundaries have been accepted by the council committee.
A meeting of the full council will make a final decision on the authority’s response to the LGBCE later this month. The public can respond to the organisation's draft proposals until 14th January by visiting lgbce.org.uk.