Chorley boundary change proposal "bonkers"

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A Chorley councillor has criticised a preliminary plan to link Heskin with Ulnes Walton, as residents are urged to respond to consultation.

The leader of Chorley Council has urged "anybody with an interest in local democracy" to have their say on a new electoral map for the borough, after a councillor branded one of the proposals “bonkers”.

Chorley's ward boundaries are set for a shake-up.

Chorley's ward boundaries are set for a shake-up.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is leading a consultation on new ward layouts for local elections in the area.

Last month, it was agreed that the number of councillors on the authority would be cut from 47 to 42.

Leader of the Labour-run authority, Cllr Alistair Bradley, said: “It’s a balance between the number of councillors and ensuring people are democratically represented by councillors they know they can talk to - and who can deal with their issues.”

He was speaking after a meeting of the council’s own, cross-party, electoral review committee, which heard concerns about the possibility of current community links being broken.

Committee member and Labour councillor for Chisnall, Alan Whittaker, said: “Just to get the numbers right, Heskin - which has been connected with Eccleston for a hundred years - is moved in with Ulnes Walton, [with which] there is no community identity.

“It would be bonkers,” he added.

That plan forms part of a preliminary map, drawn up by the council’s officers, which will form the basis of the authority’s own response to the LGBCE consultation.

Phil Davies, Chorley Council’s Electoral Services Manager, said he was relying on councillors’ specialist local knowledge to inform a redraft of the map before it is put to full council for final approval in September.

He said the current version had been based purely on the LGBCE’s demand to bring the number of voters in each ward to within +/-10% of the average across the borough. At the moment, the Astley and Buckshaw ward has a 37% bigger electorate than the Chorley average, reflecting population changes in the area since the last boundary review in the 1970s.

Mr. Davies also said he had tried to avoid an “undesirable” scenario in which residents would have to visit different polling stations depending on whether they were voting in borough or county elections.

Separately, local political parties can also make their own submissions to the LGBCE and Cllr Bradley accepted that party politics might play a part in that aspect of the process.

“All political groups will try to look for an ideal world for themselves. But the council has a duty to maintain representation on democratic principles and the boundary commission will take a balanced view,” he said.

Details of the LGBCE consultation can be found by visiting www.lgbce.org.uk and searching for Chorley. Chorley Council’s draft submission to the consultation is available on the authority’s own website.