Ashfield councillors in row over new boundary proposals

The ruling Labour party on Ashfield District Council was accused of contravening the council’s own constitution after putting forward its formal response to the district’s boundary review.
Ashfield District Council offices.Ashfield District Council offices.
Ashfield District Council offices.

The Local Government Boundary Commission has been consulting on plans to create new council wards, change ward boundaries and change ward names in Ashfield in order to improve electoral equality in the district so that all votes are worth roughly the same.

Recommendations were put forward to increase the number of councillors by two to 35, representing 22 single-member wards, five two-member wards and one three-member ward.

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But at Thursday’s council meeting, council leader Chris Baron presented the council’s formal response to the proposals and instead recommended the division into 25 wards - 14 single-member wards, eight two-member wards and one three-member ward.

He said they proposed having one more councillor for Sutton and one more for Hucknall - rather than having both of the additional councillors in Sutton - because of future housing developments planned for Hucknall.

Liberal Democrat leader Jason Zadrozny said that he ‘fundamentally disagrees’ with this being put forward as the council’s formal response because it was not agreed by the all-party Boundary Review Working Group.

He said that the proposals were not a council recommendation, but a Labour Party recommendation which is ‘unacceptable and contrary to the council’s constitution’.

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Coun Zadrozny said that the response ‘fails to achieve electoral equality’ and the changes proposed result in Hucknall being over-represented and Sutton being under-represented.

Independent councillor Gail Turner said that the working group ‘has had no input into the response’.

“It seems to me that the Labour Party has used officers of this authority to produce its response for them,” she said, adding that the constitutionally set-up working group has been ‘completely circumnavigated’ when putting the response together.

Coun John Wilmott said that Hucknall people would be happier with the revised submission because the ward names and boundaries proposed by the Commission ‘completely undermine the ethos of Hucknall’ by removing the town’s name.