Boundary change concerns

Issues over proposed changes to parish wards in Chatteris have been raised at the very top by local MP Steve Barclay.

Mr Barclay together with Chatteris Town Clerk Joanna Melton attended a meeting at the House of Commons to discuss proposed changes to parish council wards in Chatteris.

As a result of the meeting Mr Barclay has secured a commitment that concerns in Chatteris over new names for parish wards will now be changed when the forthcoming Draft Order goes to both Houses of Parliament.

Mrs Melton and Mr Barclay met with representatives from the local boundary commission to discuss concerns that new changes to electoral ward boundaries will seriously affect the next elections for Chatteris and Fenland Councils including voters having to cast their ballot in different locations.

The new rules will see voters in Chatteris elect seven parish councillors, adding three new wards to the Council’s total. Mrs Melton highlighted her concern that the proposed division into wards would lead to unequal workloads, with three councillors representing just over 100 electors while their colleagues in neighbouring wards will support up to 2,000 electors.

Mr Barclay said: “It is clear that the proposed new rules for local elections in Chatteris are a concern for members of the council who legitimately want to ensure more equal representation across the town.

“We held a constructive meeting with representatives from the Boundary Commission who explained why these changes are being put forward. We encouraged them to look again at the potential impact of ward name and boundary changes on the next elections and they have written to assure us that they will take our concerns into consideration when drawing up plans following the 2015 district council elections.

“The main issue we wanted to highlight in advance of these recommendations being put before parliament was the need for electoral equality for voters and ease of access for polling stations. Changes to ward names will also need to be well sign-posted in advance of 2015 so that people are kept updated about changes to the voting process for District and Council elections.”

The new warding proposals were based on recommendations put forward by Fenland District Council at an earlier stage of the review in October 2012. Some of the changes will not be made until after the 2015 town council elections.

The Boundary Commission will lay the draft order before both Houses of Parliament in October 2013.