Fears over councillor ‘cull’

The number of councillors at the town hall could soon be cut.

The number of councillors at the town hall could soon be cut. - Credit: Archant

CONCERNED villagers in Backwell are appealing for both their district representatives to continue serving the ward following an imminent councillor cull.

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has just completed a public consultation on changes to North Somerset Council. During the shake-up, boundaries are likely to be changed and the amount of district councillors reduced from 61 to either 46 or 51.

But hundreds of villagers in Backwell and Barrow Gurney are concerned that any reduction of councillors in their ward will be detrimental to its constituents.

Bruce Stewart, chairman of Backwell Residents Association, said: “Backwell parish is among the largest in area in the district.

“The remainder of the ward includes a very large range of interests arising from extremely rural hamlets, through to infill villages, to our own service village.

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“This diversity in breadth of lifestyles and living standards, and in the area to be covered, makes weighty demands on its district councillors.

“Representation based purely on elector numbers cannot democratically address the local needs.”

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Backwell and Barrow Gurney are represented by independent councillors Karen Barclay and Geoff Coombs, who are very popular with constituents and also represent Flax Bourton and Chelvey.

Barrow Gurney Parish Council has also asked for councillor numbers to be reduced to just 51 rather than 46.

Chairman Eric Gates said: “The concern is that, as a fairly small rural area, we get increasingly diluted in bigger and bigger constituencies.

“There is a lot more diversity between Barrow Gurney and Backwell than there is in perhaps different areas in Weston.”

Once the consultation on the number of councillors has been completed, the Local Government Boundary Commission will re-draw ward boundaries to accommodate the elected members.

Members of the public will be able to have their say on the boundary changes before any decisions are made.

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