Review will look at plans to change voting boundaries in Chatteris

11:10 03 January 2014

Chatteris town clerk Joanna Melton and MP Steve Barclay, right, talking to Boundary Commission representatives Max Caller and Marcus Bowell.

Chatteris town clerk Joanna Melton and MP Steve Barclay, right, talking to Boundary Commission representatives Max Caller and Marcus Bowell.

Archant

Plans to change the way people vote in Chatteris go under the spotlight following a major review that has been called “totally illogical”.

At the moment 12 members of Chatteris Town Council cover four wards with around 2,000 voters per ward.

However, there is talk of keeping the number of town councillors the same (12) and instead changing the wards to a total of seven.

Some of those new wards would have up to 2,000 voters covered by three councillors down to one ward which would have less than 100 voters covered by one member.

The town council has said the changes would be “undemocratic” and would lead to unequal workloads.

It would also mean that on voting day some town council wards would be different to district council wards meaning some people having to place their votes at two different polling stations.

The changes were suggested last year by the Boundary Commission but now, thanks to town clerk Joanna Melton and MP Steve Barclay stepping in to intervene with a meeting at Westminster, a review begins this month.

The review, to be made by Fenland District Council, begins this month and has been welcomed by town councillor Chris Howes who said the proposed changes made no sense to anybody and were “totally illogical”.

Mr Barclay said the changes: “Made little sense to me and would have had a negative impact on turnout at the election.

“Following our meeting, the Boundary Commission has now reconsidered and has decided that Fenland District Council can carry out a community governance review to look at the warding issues in Chatteris ahead of the 2015 elections.”

Mr Barclay said there was no guarantee that the wards would change but the town council was hopeful.

“This announcement is a step in the right direction. It shows how the town council and MP working together can help address an issue before it occurs,” he 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.

“The main issue we wanted to highlight was the need for electoral equality for voters and ease of access for polling stations,” he said. Chatteris Town Council is concerned that single member wards will be undemocratic and if changes must be made are urging for there to be five wards so that work can be evenly spread.

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