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Gerrymandering claims denied as consultation deadline on wards looms

PUBLISHED: 16:04 03 April 2018 | UPDATED: 16:04 03 April 2018

A map showing the current ward boundaries of Norwich City Council. Picture: Local Government Boundaries Commission for England

A map showing the current ward boundaries of Norwich City Council. Picture: Local Government Boundaries Commission for England

LGBCE

A row has broken out over the proposed readjustment of a council’s ward boundaries - with one side denying accusations from the other of gerrymandering to gain an advantage.

Following recommendations from the Local Government Boundaries Commission in October, Norwich City Council began looking at readjusting the 13 wards and at a recent meeting the Labour Group presented its draft proposal for the changes.

Within these, resources councillor Paul Kendrick set out a number of proposed changes, including reassigning part of the Thorpe Hamlet ward to Crome, along with alterations to the Town Close, Eaton and Lakenham wards.

The motion was approved by the council but the proposed changes to Thorpe Hamlet - which would create a new boundary along the middle of Gurney Road, between this ward and the Crome ward - proved a contentious issue.

Martin Schmierer, leader of the council’s Green group, said he felt there may have been an element of gerrymandering - moving boundaries to favour a particular party - in the proposal.

However, Mr Kendrick has said he “disagrees entirely” with this accusation.

He said: “We have been very transparent about the situation and it is entirely up to residents groups to have their say on the proposals.
“People will obviously have different opinions on the proposals but I think we have gone by the guidance of the boundaries commission and our proposals are quite logical.”

James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrats group, also said he has concerns about Thorpe Hamlet.

He said: “While I’m broadly supportive of the proposed changes, I do have concerns around the changes to the Thorpe Hamlet ward.

“My concern is that it may damage community links between people living on the other side of the Plumstead Road.”

Mr Kendrick, however, said: “I don’t think that would be the case - these people would still use the same amenities”

While the Labour proposal has been made, no final decision will be reached until a consultation - which opened on January 30 - has been completed.

Those wishing to make representations have until Monday, April 9 to do so, either online or by post.

How to have your say

The deadline to make a representation on the city council ward boundaries is Monday, April 9 - less than a week’s time.

Those wishing to have their say on the matter can do so in one of two ways - either online or via the post.

Colin Mellors, chairman of the Local Government Boundaries Commission, said: “We will consider every submission we receive before we draw up draft recommendations. Don’t miss this chance to have your say on how your council is run.”

Postal submissions should be sent to: The Review Officer (Norwich), Local Government Boundary Commission for England, 14th floor, Millbank Tower, London, SW1P 4QP.

Emailed submissions to: reviews@lgbce.org.uk

Online submissions: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/11623

For more information on the consultation: http://www.lgbce.org.uk/all-reviews/eastern/norfolk/norwich

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