Councillor numbers cut as Rotherham boundary changes go through

By Dave Doyle | 14/12/2017

Councillor numbers cut as Rotherham boundary changes go through
"Fix" claims: Cllr John Turner

COUNCILLORS have overwhelmingly approved cutting four of their number as changes are made ward boundaries from 2020.

Rotherham Borough Council has been working with the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) to redraw wards so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters.

On Wednesday, Elected members agreed the changes, which will see the number of seats fall from 63 to 59, despite protests from some councillors.

Several wards which currently have three councillors will have just two in future.

Council leader Cllr Chris Read said: “We have been engaged with the LGBCE for a number of months now.

“[Boundary changes] are never easy, but I would like to pay tribute to the cross-party boundary review group.”

The changes will see some wards gain or lose residents at their edges to balance voter numbers.

Cllr John Turner, UKIP councillor for Hellaby ward, complained that his constituency was being “cut in half”.

He accused the chamber’s Labour majority of “some sort of a fix” to oust him from the council.

UKIP colleague Cllr Brian Cutts echoed the sentiment, adding: “I would like to congratulate you all.

“You’ve done a splendid job conducting this to your advantage.”

But UKIP, Labour and Liberal Democrat members all stood to voice support for the changes.

Deputy council leader Cllr Gordon Watson said: “Everyone has been affected by this. My ward has been dramatically changed, but I can see the logic.”

Cllr Brian Steele, Labour for Hoober ward, said: “People will not elect us on boundary changes. 

“They will elect us on what we do in this chamber and how our party does in national opinion polls, so I can see why UKIP would be worried.”

Cllr Adam Carter, Lib Dem for Brinsworth and Catcliffe, said: “I think the consultation was good and we managed to improve integrity in my ward.

“Although I think this was one of the better solutions, I do think we could have reduced numbers further.”

And Cllr Peter Short, UKIP member for Sitwell, added: “We worked very hard with the Labour members on this and there was absolutely no political gerrymandering or anything of that nature.”

Councillors also voted to accept changes to where residents will vote, designed to minimise the use of schools as polling stations.

Cllr Saghir Alam, cabinet member for corporate services, said the changes were related to “access issues”.

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