Blackpool boundary review sparks election claim

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Blackpool’s Tories are calling for a reduction in the number of councillors serving the town after claiming the current set up favored Labour at the last local elections.

 

Should there be fewer seats in the council chamber?

Should there be fewer seats in the council chamber?

The Conservative group says there is an unequal number of voters in each ward which could be rectified by merging two wards and reducing the number of councillors from the current 42 to 39.

They say this would be enough to run the council efficiently “based on ward sizes, individual councillor committee placements, councillor workloads and other data.”

But Labour believes the resort is currently carved up fairly apart from Stanley ward where new housing developments have recently increased the population.

Currently the wards are under review by the Boundary Commission, an independent body whose role is to make sure councillors represent about the same number of electors.

They also want to ensure the current system helps the council work effectively and reflects community ties and identities.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “Currently the wards are not equal in size in regard to elector numbers and that needs to be rectified by either merging two wards into one or other combinations.

“It was quite obvious at the last local elections that the ward districts were not providing an equal political playing field.

“The Conservative candidates in total actually received far more votes than Labour but because of the discrepancy in equal ward votes the Labour group were declared the winners.”

Following the May 2019 elections, Labour retained town hall control after winning 23 of the 42 seats, but the Conservatives received around 200 more votes across the whole borough.

But Coun Ivan Taylor, deputy leader of the Labour group, dismissed Coun Williams’ claims this was affected by the size of the wards.

He said: “The wards haven’t changed a lot in terms of population despite being the same for around 20 years.

“Stanley ward has had a lot of housing development so that is on the big side so we’ll be looking at that, but the rest will only need a small amount of tweaking.

“Ward boundaries can be flexible but they have to reflect the community and have natural boundaries such as a main road.”

People have until November 1 to take part in consultation over possible changes to the ward boundaries.

The commission has a dedicated section on its website where people can give their views: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/29508People can also give their views by e-mail at reviews@lgbce.org.uk, and by post:

The Review Officer (Blackpool)

LGBCE

PO Box 133

Blyth

NE24 9FE