Joint anger over ward merger plan

PUBLISHED: 12:12 30 July 2015

Boundary changes are proposed for Devon County Council

Boundary changes are proposed for Devon County Council

Archant

Plans to merge Littleham with Budleigh Salterton for county council elections have been criticised.

Mayor Maddie Chapman, the Lib Dem’s parliamentary spokesman Stuart Mole and the Conservative town council have all blasted the Boundary Commission’s proposals.

The commission wants to slash the number of Devon’s county ‘divisions’ from 62 to 60, by merging some of them. They say it will make elections fairer, as councillors would represent similar numbers of people, no matter where people lived.

Two seats would be lost and both would be in the Exmouth/Budleigh area.

Currently, there are four seats in Exmouth and Budleigh: Withycombe and Brixington; the town centre and Littleham; Exmouth Halsdon and Woodbury; and Budleigh and the Otter Valley seat - with one councillor in each area.

Boundary bosses want to cut the four to two by merging the Littleham part of the town ward with Budleigh, to create a new ‘Budleigh Salterton Coastal’ ward. The ‘town’ part of the ward would then merge with the current wards of Halsdon/Woodbury and Brixington/Withycombe.

The ‘new’seats would have two councillors each instead of the existing one.

Mayor Maddie Chapman said: “There is no way Littleham should be merged with Budleigh Salterton. They have nothing common.”

Mr Mole said: “Perhaps the biggest nonsense is in Exmouth, where they propose cutting Exmouth Town in two, with Littleham ward tacked on to Budleigh Salterton.

“The rest of the town would be combined together with Woodbury, Lympstone and Exton in a more remote double-member seat. Exmouth deserves better.

“Its democratic representation should clearly reflect the whole town – not be chopped up and redistributed to where it has no community links, solely to satisfy the commission’s arithmetic.

He added: “I suspect voters in Budleigh Salterton will be equally aghast.

“There is still time before the consultation finishes on July 6 to tell the commission to think again.”


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