Councillor numbers could be cut and wards axed in Darlington as new ward boundaries are suggested (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Councillor numbers could be cut and wards axed in Darlington as new ward boundaries are suggested
THE NUMBER of councillors in Darlington could be cut and wards axed as part of plans to ensure voters are proportionately represented ahead of the 2015 elections.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has ruled that the number of councillors representing Darlington Borough Council should be reduced from 53 to 50 in time for the next election and that a new pattern of wards to reflect the change should be drawn up.
The commission asked local people, businesses and community organisations to suggest a new pattern of wards ahead of a consultation period set to begin in March.
At a council meeting on Wednesday, councillors agreed to forward a joint submission from the town’s Labour and Conservative parties to the Boundary Commission for consideration.
The draft plans would see three councillors – two Labour and one Liberal Democrat - lose their seats with the axing of the Lascelles and Central/Northgate wards.
A redistribution of councillors would see one additional seat created in the Cockerton West, Lingfield and Bank Top wards, with one less seat in Cockerton East.
Council leader Bill Dixon said: “This map is drawn up fairly and sensibly with no crazy dividing lines.
“As such, it is easy to recognise and understand for people who are outside of council chambers who know where they live.
“We have taken the view that there should be minimum changes and no name changes for the sake of it.
“The map is fair. The last thing we want to do is confuse people before the elections when voting numbers are falling.”
Another submission was put forward by the Lib Dems at the meeting but it was rejected by the majority of councillors.
The party will submit their alternative plan – which renames several wards and axes Haughton West and Northgate – independently to the Boundary Commission.
The plans – which do not represent formal proposals at this stage – will be considered by the commission prior to their drawing up of draft recommendations for a new pattern of wards in March 2014.
A further consultation period will follow.
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