West Norfolk could lose seven councillors and eight wards in proposed boundary changes
- Credit: IAN BURT
Seven councillors may lose their seats in proposed local government boundary changes in West Norfolk.
The Local Government and Boundary Commission (LGBC) is carrying out an electoral review of West Norfolk council, which currently has 62 members.
But that could be reduced to 55 and the number of wards reduced to 34, eight fewer than there are now.
The LGBC recommends those councillors to represent two three-councillor wards, 16 two-councillor wards and 17 one-councillor wards, which means all but four existing wards will be affected by these changes.
A draft recommendations report by the LGBC states the aim of the changes is to create 'electoral equality' as some councillors represent many more or fewer voters than others.
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Some of the biggest changes include North and South Wootton wards being merged into one - the Woottons - which will also include the northern areas of the Valley Hill ward, Dersingham Bog, the Sandringham Estate and Anmer.
The Woottons ward will increase its electorate from 6,084 to 6,599 with three councillors to represent it.
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The current North and South Wootton wards already have three councillors and so the same number will represent an increased area.
Valley Hill ward will disappear in name with the remaining areas to join the eastern part of Priory ward - which is also to disappear - to create Massingham with Castle Acre, with one councillor representing the forecast 2,530 voters.
Hunstanton will lose one councillor, from three to two, but the geographical boundary will also be significantly reduced to exclude Holme and Ringstead.
Instead, these areas will join Brancaster ward, adding 94 people to the electorate there.
A series of consultation meetings with West Norfolk council began in June this year, where some councillors objected the recommendations put forward initially by the council.
Lesley Bambridge, councillor for St Margarets with St Nicholas ward which she shares with fellow Conservative Michael Taylor, raised concerns after recommendations were made for her ward to be represented by one councillor.
She said that she had been 'overworked' from dealing with matters on her own after the previous second councillor lost their seat and a by-election took place to replace them.
But Ms Bambridge said she was glad the LGBC had listened to her concerns and made recommendations for the ward to remain a two-councillor area.
She added: 'I'm very happy to see they have taken heed of local councillors - I have been a councillor for 10 years, we are the people who are on the ground, we know what to expect.'
Residents had also written to the council, with one commending the proposal to have North and South Wootton wards being placed under one.
Richard Coates, who lives on the border between the two wards, said: 'I'm in favour of reducing the number of council wards and the numbers of council members.
'These two parishes are known locally as 'The Woottons' and share some facilities but are presently in two separate wards. North Wootton is generally thought of as lying between the main populations of South Wootton and Castle Rising, yet South Wootton and Castle Rising are put together to form the same ward.
'The two Woottons are more similar in character with each other than is Castle Rising with either of The Woottons.'
An 11-week public consultation is currently under way, giving residents a chance to have their say on the proposed recommendations until January 15. Final recommnedations will be published on April 3.
Prof Colin Mellors, chair of the LGBC, said: 'Our review aims to deliver electoral equality for local voters. This means that each councillor represents a similar number of people so that everyone's vote in council elections is worth roughly the same regardless of where you live.
'We also want to ensure that our proposals reflect the interests and identities of local communities across King's Lynn and West Norfolk and that the pattern of wards can help the council deliver effective local government to local people.'
To make your voice heard, and to view an interactive map of the boundary recommendations, visit the online consultation portal here.