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Norwich community fears voting ward shake-up will split it in two

PUBLISHED: 09:32 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:22 15 August 2018

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking people across Norwich to comment on its draft proposals for new council ward boundaries. Pic: Ordnance Survey data (c) Crown copyright and database rights 2018

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking people across Norwich to comment on its draft proposals for new council ward boundaries. Pic: Ordnance Survey data (c) Crown copyright and database rights 2018

Ordnance Survey

It’s not the sort of subject which usually gets pulses racing, but a proposed shake-up which would change the voting boundaries in Norwich has sparked a petition signed by more than 150 people.

The Independent Local Boundary Commission for England last month started a 10-week public consultation over its draft proposals for changes to council wards.

The commission is not recommending any reduction in the 13 wards or recommending that their current names should be changed.

And they are not recommending that there should be more or fewer than the current 39 city councillors.

But the boundaries of the wards could be tweaked, with the aim to ensure each city councillor represents roughly the same number of voters.

The plans for Mancroft ward have angered people who live in the St Augustine’s Street area, who fear their community will be split in two by the proposals and, in doing so, separate it from the city centre.

The St Augustine’s Community Together Residents’ Association has started an online petition, signed by 167 people, urging the commission not to make changes.

Stuart McLaren, secretary of the association, said: “The proposed change would split our community in two down St Augustine’s Street and move the two sides into the northern wards, Mile Cross and Sewell, where we fear our community’s concerns will be less likely to be heard and community cohesion and identity will be dissipated.

“Just at the moment when we’d hoped to see our community reconnected with the city centre via a new pedestrian crossing over the Inner Ring Road at St George’s Street, these plans will further marginalise us and reduce our community to no more than a minor suburban annexe of north Norwich.

“The changes will not just effect where we cast our vote and whom we vote for, but may also effect such things as house valuations, credit ratings, school catchment areas, council services, planning, transport and conservation.

“And when the parliamentary boundaries are eventually redrawn it is also likely we will be moved into Norwich North constituency. St Augustine’s has always been a part of the city centre and must remain so.”

The consultation runs until September 10.

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