Stoke-on-Trent To Be Split In Boundary Shifts

Parts of Stoke-on-Trent could be merged with Newcastle-under-Lyme under government proposals change parliamentary boundary.

The review, an outcome of the 2010 election seeks to cut down the total number of MPs in the country and make more balanced constituencies.

New constituencies must be within 5% difference of the average voting population split across the constituencies, i.e. between72,810 and 80,473.

In North Staffordshire, Stoke will be losing it’s exclusive trio of city constituencies, and Staffordshire will lose one MP as constituencies are morphed together.
In the overhaul, the existing South constituency will adopt parts of Stoke and Trent Vale.

The Stoke Central constituency will include various new wards from the existing North constituency which is where the biggest changes are felt.

Tunstall, Chell and Packmoor and Burslem North will be merged with 12 Kidsgrove and Newcastle wards, in the cross-town Kidsgrove&Tunstall constituency.

The immediate reaction is that Stoke residents will be 1/5th of a constituency and so in effect won’t be voting for their City MP.

The boundary proposals are now open for discussion and for the next 12 weeks, the Boundary Commission will be accepting comments, complaints and suggestions about their proposals.

Although these merges wouldn’t directly affect council elections and services, there is a fear that Newcastle/Kidsgrove/Stoke-on-Trent could be losing their historic identities.

In a recent lecture, former Elected Mayor, Mike Wolfe said that a merge made financial sense and that it was the obvious thing to do.

Across the country, both Prime Minister David Cameron’s and Leader of the Opposition Ed Milliband’s constituencues will remain unchanged ““ 2 of only 77 MPs whose boundaries remain.

Nick Clegg’s constituency will be changed, however.

With a reduction of 50 MPs across the country, inner-party squabbling is expected to break out as politicians scramble for seats.

Below is a list of the proposed new parliamentary wards for Stoke-on-Trent.

Kidsgrove and Tunstall 75,352
Audley and Bignall End Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,694
Bradwell Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,970
Butt Lane Newcastle-under-Lyme 4,349
Chesterton Newcastle-under-Lyme 5,475
Halmerend Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,038
Holditch Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,366
Kidsgrove Newcastle-under-Lyme 5,255
Madeley Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,419
Newchapel Newcastle-under-Lyme 2,801
Porthill Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,229
Ravenscliffe Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,372
Talke Newcastle-under-Lyme 3,206
Burslem North Stoke-on-Trent 9,131
Chell and Packmoor Stoke-on-Trent 9,211
Tunstall Stoke-on-Trent 9,836

Stoke-on-Trent Central BC 79,980
Abbey Green Stoke-on-Trent 8,962
Bentilee and Townsend Stoke-on-Trent 9,008
Berryhill and Hanley East Stoke-on-Trent 7,71 7
Burslem South Stoke-on-Trent 8,730
East Valley Stoke-on-Trent 10,226
Hanley West and Shelton Stoke-on-Trent 8,434
Hartshill and Penkhull Stoke-on-Trent 9,045
Northwood and Birches Head Stoke-on-Trent 8,949
Norton and Bradeley Stoke-on-Trent 8,909

Stoke-on-Trent South 78,283
Blurton Stoke-on-Trent 9,550
Fenton Stoke-on-Trent 9,225
Longton North Stoke-on-Trent 10,660
Longton South Stoke-on-Trent 10,274
Meir Park and Sandon Stoke-on-Trent 10,082
Stoke and Trent Vale Stoke-on-Trent 9,659
Trentham and Hanford Stoke-on-Trent 9,769
Weston and Meir North Stoke-on-Trent 9,064

Boundary Commission Confirm 44 Councillors For Stoke-on-Trent

Audio Interviews With LGBC & D4S Online Now!

Following a lengthy review and months of public consultations the Local Government Boundary Commission for England [LGBCE] has today released its recommendations for the warding arrangements for the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

The LGBE has recommended that the number of councillors needed to represent the people of Stoke-on-Trent is 44.

There will be 31 single member wards, 5 two member wards and 1 three member ward.

Originally they were proposing a pattern of 33 single-member wards, four two-member wards and one three-member ward.

The boundary review was instigated following the Stoke-on-Trent Governance Commission’s publishing its 14 recommendations in 2007.

The Commission recommended, among others, that:

Ӣ The City Council should move to all-out elections, i.e. hold elections once every four years (the council currently elects by thirds, with elections in three years out of four).

“¢ There should be a uniform pattern of single-member wards (the council currently has a uniform pattern of three-member wards).

“¢ Work should be commenced on building a case for an appropriate council size at an early date (the Council currently comprises 60 councillors).

The proposed new arrangements must now be implemented by Parliament. An Order ““ the legal document which brings into force the recommendations ““ will be laid in Parliament over the coming weeks. The draft order allows for the new electoral arrangements to come into force for the next council elections in May 2011.

Ward boundaries ““ what people said in the final stage of the consultation.

Following initial consultations on number of councillors and suggestions for wards, the LGBCE published draft recommendations on 26/3/10 and invited comments. The final stage of the consultation closed on 11/6/10.

My blog mostly focuses on the issue of numbers of councillors per ward although many people put forward specific boundary and ward naming suggestions.

17 submissions were made by politicians and political groups. Notably, none of these complimented the LGBCE on the bizarre mix of 1, 2 and 3 member wards in their draft proposals and many argued strongly against a mix. The local labour and conservative parties, the council’s conservative group and councillors Dave Sutton, Peter Kent-Baguley and Mick Salih argued in favour of single member wards. Arguments include the scale of campaigning and the number of electorate associated with each councillor being smaller and more manageable and avoiding dominance of social housing areas over smaller communities. In contrast councillor Mike Coleman argued in favour of two member wards to better serve residents. Other councillors had also argued this in the previous stage of the consultation. Joan Walley MP accepts single member wards but only if councillors are adequately resourced, which she doesn’t see that they are. Rob Flello MP wants either only single member wards or only multimember wards but does not mind a mix of 2 and 3 member wards. Democracy for Stoke made a more general submission for more councillors, a power of recall and a uniform system.

Personally I think all these submissions make some good points. I want a uniform system for democracy, equality, fairness and clear and effective local government. I don’t mind whether this is 1 or 2 member wards but I am against a mixture. Of the above submissions I agree most with Mike Coleman on the basis that the 2 member ward solution takes best democratic account of the arguments made in the previous stage of the consultation from ordinary residents and their associations, who overwhelmingly preferred multimember wards and were opposed to single member wards.

21 submissions were made by local orgnisations. There are no strong arguments from residents’ associations for single member wards although Hartshill and Harpfields RA, Newford RA and Penkhull RA accept or support the mix proposed. Other RAs maintain a strong argument for two member wards; Brindley Ford RA, Chell Area RA, Fegge Hayes RA and Woodfarm RA. These are all pushing for pairs of proposed single member wards to be joined together in the interests of community links and identity. Organisations arguing in favour of single member wards are the Governance and Transition Board, the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and St. Modwen.

Who matters more, local residents and their associations or large companies and unelected interfering bodies? I say the former. I think this quote from a former “ËœUnreasonably Persistent Complainant’ is well worthy of mention. He describes the draft proposals as “an increasingly desperate and dysfunctional political establishment trying to keep power by gerrymandering ward boundaries to exclude new political groups with policies relevant to our peoples needs” (dated 12/4/10). Well said ex-UPC! What bothers me is that the new government with its supposed “Ëœlocalism’ agenda has nevertheless done nothing to counteract the interference in our democracy imposed by the previous one. Different party in charge ““ same old establishment.

126 submissions were made by residents. These show well how certain groups have engaged with the process and written many letters and some petitions to make strong views known. Particular cases are to use the name Hartshill and Basford instead of Cliff Vale and Stoke, support for inclusion of the Meadow Lane estate into Trentham and Hanford, support for the boundaries of the Dresden and Florence ward, a call for the Tunstall North RA area to be wholly in Tunstall rather than cut in two and to use the name Sneyd Green Village or Moorcroft instead of Cobridge.

Some residents still argue against the reduction in the number of councillors; Shaun Bennett, Patricia Dixon, Mr and Mrs Ruscoe, James Tongue, an unnamed contributor and myself. But a few favour the reduction; P L Field, Peter Grady and Roger Leverett. Mr A Bloor argues for community councillors as well as city councillors.

In terms of councillors per ward, Heather Davie, Andrew and Karen Pate and Graham Simm agree with the mix proposed. Shaun Bennett, P L Field and D Leverton favour single member wards. More favour 2 member wards; Susan Dennis, Patricia Dixon, Lydia Palmer, Iain Robinson, A E Snape, Mrs Taylor and myself. Michael Dixon and Ann James argue against single member wards. Mr and Mrs Ruscoe and the unnamed contributor want 3 member wards (without reducing councillor numbers). Some argue specifically against a mix of ward types and for a uniform system; Patricia Dixon, Michael Dixon, Iain Robinson and myself.

The balance of the quantity and quality of all the arguments indicate to me that the LGBCE should in a fair and reasonable world conclude that a uniform system of two member wards be proposed to parliament. We await their conclusion.

Furthermore if the current government really believes in localism it will throw out the entire recommendation when it comes before parliament and reverse the order for all out elections, on the basis that these were imposed by the previous bunch of labour dictators against the will of our council and the majority of local people. If parliament were to reject the LGBCE recommendation we would keep 60 councillors and the current 20 wards at 3 councillors per ward. A government order overturning the last one would be needed to restore elections by thirds.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Recommend 44 Single Member Wards For City

An extra-ordinary meeting of Stoke-on-Trent City Council today [Thursday] voted to send a recommendation to the Boundary Committee of England to amend their proposals for the Warding arrangements for the City.

The City Council will send a response to the Boundary Committee’s draft proposals, recommending that they are amended to show uniformity across the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

The response will ask for 44 single member wards and will also call for some of the proposed ward names to be changed.

Addressing the Council Chamber, Cllr Mick Salih moved the following motion:

“That the proposed warding arrangements, as set out in the draft response now submitted, be approved as the Council submission to the Boundary Commission for England with the following amendments:

Ward 10 [Cobridge] ““ That, the ward be renamed to Moorcroft.
Ward 14 [Central Forest Park & Northwood] ““ That, the ward to renamed to Moorcroft.
Ward 22 [Hanford & Trentham] ““ That, the ward be renamed to Hanford & Trentham North.
Ward 24 [Blurton West & Newstead] ““ That, the ward be redrawn to include Enstone Close, Garsdale Crescent, & Fallowfield, with a small section of Finstock Avenue, and that Ward 26 [Blurton East] be amended to reflect this.
Ward 28 [Normacot] ““ That the ward be renamed to Lightwood North & Normacot
Ward 29 [Lightwood] ““ That the ward be renamed to Meir South.
Ward 31 [ Meir] ““ That the ward be renamed to Meir North.
Ward 33 [Longton East] ““ That the ward be renamed to Broadway & Longton East.
Ward 37 [Bentilee] ““ That the ward be renamed to Bentilee North.
Ward 38 [Willfield] ““ That the ward be renamed to Bentilee South”.

In moving the motion, Cllr Salih spoke of the need for uniformity across the whole of the City. He said it was not right to have a mixture of multi and single member wards. He believed that 44 one member, one ward would give everyone fair representation. He called for the chamber to unite and vote in favour of the motion because in doing so the city council would send out a clear concise message to the Boundary Committee, the Governance Commission and the Transition Board, that the city is willing and able to tackle the issues it faces. He reminded the chamber that the City Council needs to send a message out to businesses thinking of investing in Stoke-on-Trent that the Council mean business! He was disappointed with the low turnout of councillors for this meeting and said that the 30 odd who were there could prove that smaller council’s do work. He congratulated the previous Chair of the Administration & Appeals Committee, former Councillor Alan Joynson, for his sterling work in preparing the City Council’s response. This was to be echoed across the chamber form all speakers.

Cllr Ross Irving said that he fully supported the motion and he also thanked Cllr Salih, the new Chair of Administration & Appeals for listening to his submission at the meeting yesterday. He felt the response made sensible recommendations to the Boundary Commission and he endorsed Cllr Salih’s view that uniformity and a clear message was vital to the City Council.

Cllr Randy Conteh said that he had sent a large amount of evidence based findings to the Administration & Appeals Committee and he thanked Cllr Salih for taking them on board and accepting his proposals. He said the he would fully support the motion.

Cllr Mike Coleman said that he and the BNP group could not support the motion although he accepted and appreciated the work that Cllr Salih and former Cllr Joynson had put in to the response. The Full reasons for his lack of support can be heard in the Audio Interview below.

Cllr Mike Barnes said that he was fully supportive of the motion although he had concerns over the need for the review of the Boundaries of the City of Stoke-on-Trent. You can hear him talk extensively about what he describes as “Ëœgerrymandering’ by successive governments in the Audio Interview below.

Cllr Peter Kent-Baguley supported the motion and paid tribute to the work that had gone into the response. He did however, have concerns over the concept of one member, one ward. His concerns were primarily over cover for holidays and sickness. With all out elections he has concerns that residents could have to put up with a non-committed and work shy councillor and would like to see the Members of Parliament lobby to the right to sack a poor councillor.

Councillors Ward, Pervez, Hill and Webb also spoke passionately in support of the motion.

Cllr Roy Naylor to the chamber that he could not support the motion as they did not reflect the natural communities in his areas and that he had concerns that Residents Associations may be split over two wards.

Cllr Abi Brown said that smaller wards should hold no fear for hard working councillors and that they should be more recognisable in a smaller single member wards.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Denver Tolley then moved to the vote.

Cllr Mike Barnes moved a named vote which received sufficient support across the chamber.

The vote was carried by 31 for and 6 against.

The Councillors who voted against the motion were: Cllr Baddeley, Cllr Batkin, Cllr Bell, Cllr Coleman, Cllr Marfleet and Cllr Naylor.

You can still submit a response to the Boundary Committee up until the end of tomorrow [Friday 11th June 2010].

The Boundary Committee will submit their final proposals at the end of September/early October which will not be consulted upon.