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Concerns changes to boundaries could see one city ward 20pc bigger than another

PUBLISHED: 13:47 25 July 2018

Django the dog waits outside a polling station in Norwich.

Django the dog waits outside a polling station in Norwich.

Archant © 2017

Norwich City Council has raised concerns that proposed changes to voter boundaries would lead to imbalance of the wards.

Under the flyover on Magdalen Street.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Under the flyover on Magdalen Street. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

The council has run the rule over proposals from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England that would see alterations made to the boundaries of its 13 wards.

And while - unlike other second-tier councils in the county - it does not stand to lose any councillors in the reshuffle, there are fears the proposals would leave inequalities in voter numbers.

Paul Kendrick, the city council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “I will make no such remarks as to why the leadership of the Local Government Boundary Commission mainly supported the proposals of the Conservative Party, which has no representation on Norwich City Council, for I can think of no reason for it.

“However, I will criticise the draft recommendations in that it seriously undermines what should be the main priority, in that they should bring forward proposals that produce wards with a broadly similar number of voters.”

Paul Kendrick, Labour candidate for Catton Grove ward.Paul Kendrick, Labour candidate for Catton Grove ward.

Among the concerns raised, Mr Kendrick said the proposals would leave the Sewell ward 20pc larger than the Bowthorpe ward, notwithstanding the potential addition of 1,200 new homes at Anglia Square.

Instead, councillors have voted in favour of making a series of suggestions for how they feel the boundaries should be tweaked.

Among these is a recommendation for Spitalfields to remain in the Thorpe Hamlet ward, rather than being transferred to Crome, an issue which proved contentious earlier this year.

The council’s Labour Group had initially proposed for extending Crome ward, prompting allegations of “gerrymandering” from Green councillor and lord mayor Martin Schmierer.

Denise Carlo, leader of the Norwich Green Group, supported the amendments but said the boundary review could have been used as a way of re-introducing four-yearly elections in place of the current annual cycle, and that not doing this was “an opportunity lost”.

James Wright, leader of the council’s Lib Dem group, said he felt further consultation was needed before the city council submitted its recommendations, with the boundary commission’s deadline set for September 10.

City council’s recommendations

Following the draft recommendations from the boundary commission, the city council has voted in favour of submitting a range of tweaks to the proposal.

These tweaks are as follows:

1) Transfer parts of the Town Close ward, including Mount Pleasant, Arlington Lane

and the Mews to the Eaton ward

2) Add an area around

Carrow Hill to the Lakenham ward,

3) Use Hall Road as the eastern boundary of the Town Close ward

4) Retain Spitalfields as part of the Thorpe Hamlet ward, rather than transferring it to the Crome ward.

5) Retain the north side of Earlham Road as the Nelson ward, rather than transferring it to the University ward

6) Transfer Prince of Wales Road to the Mancroft

ward, rather than Thorpe Hamlet

7) Ensure a large area of Saint Augustines, between the inner ring road and northern boundary of the current Mancroft ward, is contained within one ward.

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