The body reviewing council ward boundaries in Cheshire West says there ‘appears little to differentiate’ Lache – including one of the most deprived housing estates in Chester – and ‘parts of Westminster Park ’ which is one of the city's most affluent neighbourhoods.
Such statements give community leader Reg Barritt little confidence in the process.
Mr Barritt, general secretary, Handbridge Residents Council, said there was ‘no such compatibility’ among the wards the commission sought to combine in an ‘even bigger unmanageable’ unit, saying the reasoning was ‘baffling’.
He has now written to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England which is carrying out the electoral review of ward boundaries in the Cheshire West and Chester Council area with a proposed reduction in the overall number of councillors from 75 to 70.
“Handbridge has little in common with the other areas it is to combine with,” commented Mr Barritt, who said that while Handbridge was effectively ‘a city centre urban ward’, the others ‘you are lumping it in’ are ‘suburban in character’.
”Smaller can be better if you accept smaller can be more accountable but you do not even acknowledge the possibility. Why do we bother trying to make a contribution to these so called consultations? It has been a waste of time my making representation to you on my own behalf and that of those neighbours who support this stance.”
The commission is consulting on proposals that aim to ensure that each councillor represents a similar number of people so everyone’s vote in council elections is worth roughly the same regardless of where they live.
And Professor Colin Mellors, chair of the commission, added: “We also want to ensure that our proposals reflect the interests and identities of local communities across Cheshire West and Chester and that the pattern of wards can help the council deliver effective local government to local people.”
That’s why the reasoning behind the new ward of Overleigh may seem strange to locals given the diversity between the different neighbourhoods.
The puzzling recommendation states: “We fully accept the argument that there appears little to differentiate Lache and parts of Westminster Park and that residents from across the area share facilities. We have concluded that this site should be combined in a ward with neighbouring parts of Chester. We therefore propose to adopt a three-councillor Overleigh ward as part of our draft recommendations.”
Other proposed new wards seem more logical. Newton would combine with Hoole , Elton with Mickle Trafford and Neston with Parkgate. Some wards are untouched such as Blacon , Farndon and Tattenhall . Great Boughton would be split into Vicars Cross and Boughton Heath. Frodsham and Helsby would remain separate wards.
■ Visit the interactive map to learn how your area could be affected by clicking here .