West Norfolk Council seat cut proposal backed

Views of King's Lynn

The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn

The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right.
Views of King's Lynn The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right.

Proposals that could see at least eight West Norfolk councillors lose their seats in a boundary shake-up have been backed by senior figures.

Last week, a draft report suggesting the borough council’s membership should be reduced from its present 62 to 54 as part of a review of the area’s ward structures.

The idea was approved by the authority’s ruling cabinet at a special meeting on Tuesday.

And the measure will now be put to a special council meeting next Thursday, ahead of the deadline for initial consultation responses.

A task group was set up earlier this year after the Local Government Boundary Commission for England signalled its intention to re-assess the borough’s existing boundaries.

Chief executive Ray Harding said the current consultation was solely related to the number of councillors.

Detailed discussions about where boundary changes would occur will follow at a later stage.

The meeting was told that the reform, if implemented, would mean each councillor represented an average of around 2,500 voters, although there will still be a range of about 1,000 voters between the biggest and smallest wards.

But concerns were raised about where the new boundaries could be drawn, particularly between urban and rural areas.

Alistair Beales said: “It seems to me there’s going to be a simple mathematical formula applied and that’s it.”

Kathy Mellish also highlighted the potential for problems if parishes were split across ward boundaries.

But leader Brian Long said it would be “remiss” to split parishes across ward borders.

He said: “We don’t want to split parishes unnecessary because it would create administration problems.”

The recommendation is part of a draft submission that has to be lodged with the commission by May 15.

The group has also called for single member wards to be created wherever possible, with two seats allocated to larger areas and three seat wards only in “exceptional circumstances.”

Any reforms are due to be in place before the next borough elections in 2019.