North Norfolk Labour Party has responded to the boundary commission’s draft recommendations for north Norfolk, claiming the proposals do not meet the key criteria set by the commission.
The local Labour Party has expressed concerns the proposals “cement the Conservative Party into permanent administration at North Norfolk District Council” and does not solve the problem of an unequal balance of representation in north Norfolk, particularly where there is a mix of single and double member wards.
It questions the intentions of the review which seems centred around councillors’ poor attendance rather than improving representation, which could still be a problem with eight fewer district councillors.
Moreover the party does not believe it meets the overall aims of providing equality for representation, reflecting community interests and identities, and providing effective local government.
The party chair believes the commission should give more consideration to the differences in geographical sizes of wards, rather than focusing on the numbers on the electoral roll to carve up the district.
Stephen Burke, chair of North Norfolk Labour Party, said:
“We are recommending the commission thinks again about these proposals. The plans seem more concerned with cementing the Conservative Party into permanent administration at North Norfolk District Council than improving representation.
The rationale when the proposals were first announced was to reduce councillors in a bid to improve attendance. Even with eight fewer councillors poor attendance could still be a problem.
A reduction in councillors will reduce the level of representation that local people enjoy, and will still not solve the problem of an unequal balance of power in some areas. For instance, with double member wards one voter can have two votes and two representatives representing 5% of the council, whereas in a neighbouring ward their single vote will only bring 2.5% of the representation on the council.
Furthermore the proposals only look at the total numbers on the electoral roll, rather than looking at the total population or the geographic sparsity across wards. This should have been a consideration when drawing up the proposals.
Finally, the current map of district wards fits perfectly into county divisions. The new proposals will mix this up, and puts at risk the connection between district wards and county divisions.”