The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has published its final recommendations for new electoral arrangements for Swindon Borough Council.
Today’s publication follows a 12-week public consultation on its draft proposals and draws new boundaries for each council ward in Swindon. The draft recommendations, published in March 2011, provided for a council of 57 members and the Commission today confirms that figure in its final recommendations. The Commission’s final report proposes a pattern of 18 three-member wards, one two-member ward and one single-member ward for the borough.
Max Caller, Chair of the Commission, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the people of Swindon who took the time and effort to send us their views. The Commission considered every piece of evidence it received before finalising these recommendations.
“In response to the views submitted to us by local people during consultation, we are proposing a few changes to the recommendations we put forward in March. For example, we are proposing that the Whitworth Road and Beech Avenue areas should be included in the Rodbourne Cheney Ward. We are also proposing a different ward pattern which would create a Gorse Hill & Pinehurst ward and a Penhill & Upper Stratton ward which we think better reflects community identity in that part of Swindon than the North/South split we put forward for consultation..
“In some parts of Swindon, we also received evidence that has allowed us to move away from our presumption in favour of a pattern of three-member wards across the borough. That’s why we are now proposing a single-member Ridgeway ward and a two-member ward for Chiseldon & Lawn which we think better reflects the community identities in that part of Swindon.
“Overall, our recommendations for Swindon will deliver electoral equality for voters in local elections where the value of your vote is similar regardless of where you live in the borough. We have also tried to ensure that the new electoral arrangements reflect, as far as possible, the identities and interests of local communities across Swindon.”
The proposed new arrangements must now be implemented by Parliament. A draft Order – the legal document which brings into force the recommendations – will be laid in Parliament later in the year. The draft Order provides for new electoral arrangements which would come into force at the next local elections for Swindon in May 2012.
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The final recommendations also propose new names for some proposed wards such as: renaming Covingham & Liden ward as Covingham and Dorcan; renaming Park South & Dorcan ward as Liden, Eldene & Park South ward; and renaming the proposed Western ward as Mannington and Western ward.
In the North of the borough, the Commission’s final recommendations propose minor boundary changes to its draft recommendations such as including the Redhouse development in St Andrews ward and Baxter Close in St Andrews ward from Priory Vale ward.
A significant change is proposed to ensure that the Rodbourne Cheney community is reflected in the electoral arrangements. In particular, the Commission proposes to retain the northern boundary of the existing Moredon ward boundary to retain links between community facilities in Moredon and Rodbourne Cheney. The new proposals mean that Bryony Way and Wood Hall Park would be included in Haydon Wick ward.
The Commission’s final proposals also propose creating a Gorse Hill & Pinehurst ward and a Penhill & Upper Stratton ward which better reflects local communities in central and North Swindon.