LABOUR councillors vowed to ‘fight a vigorous campaign’ against plans to change the electoral map in Boston which will see rural wards have more councillors than the town and two fewer members on the council.
The council met last Monday to discuss the new Warding Patterns submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) which will tip the balance in favour of rural areas for the first time in the borough’s history.
The recommendations on the table could mean 30 elected members overseeing 16 wards.
However Labour councillors said they were not happy that 16 of those councillors will oversee rural wards while only 14 councillors will represent the town centre.
They also questioned the figures used to forecast the growth of the population for the proposals.
Labour’s Coun Paul Gleeson said: “We accept the large blocs, we accept the officers have done the numbers as they have to – but we have to query a system that doesn’t reflect the workload of councillors when you’re in wards where people do not or cannot register.”
They said the figure did not represent the true population of Boston, however transitory.
Conservative Coun Michael Brookes said he understood the labour councillor’s positions but said: “We’re stuck with what we’re got and if we don’t make a submission to the boundary commission they will discuss this for us.
“I believe the best thing is to do the best we can with what we’re allowed to do.”
Boston District Independents Coun Alison Austin said that although she agreed with the Labour members, she had been on the working group looking at the proposals and believed the compromises made were for the best.
She added: “We have to accept that a percentage of the population is transitory – if they choose not to engage with the electoral system there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The recommendation to consider and approve the new structure was accepted with only the Labour councillors voting against.
However, the party members insisted they would be submitting plans of their own and urged the public to have their say.
What are the plans?
THE new proposed arrangement aims to make equal representation across 16 wards with 30 councillors.
It was created using a 2018 forecast figure of 49,829 voters, meaning there would be 1661 people per councillor. The new wards would be
l Trinity Ward (two councillors, 3306 electorate) - includes Trinity Church, the boys grammar school, the girls high school, the market place and Pescod Square. It will be bordered by the Maud Foster and Skirbeck Road.
l College Ward (two, 3422) - includes Boston College, the Geoff Moulder Leisure Centre and St Nicholas Primary School.
l Haven Ward (one, 1604) - includes the docks and the cultural quarter.
l Fishtoft Ward (three, 5486) - mostly Fishtoft parish but will bring back Hilldyke as before 1996. It also includes Pilgrim Hospital.
l Station Ward (one, 1630) - includes the council offices, Asda, the police station and Boston railway.
l North West Ward (two, 3323) - new urban ward includes the area currently known as Fenside. It will be bordered by the River Witham.
l Staniland (two, 3080) - includes medical centres and Staniland Primary School.
l Western Ward (one, 1704) - includes Peter Paine Sports Centre, Boston West Primary School, the cricket field, indoor bowls centre and the squash club.
l St Thomas Ward (one, 1544) - will stretch between the industrial estate and Alban Retail Park and include St Thomas’ Church. .
l Wyberton Ward (two councillors, 3495 electorate) - includes the Princes Royal Sports Arena. Will have properties in the Woodside estate, London Road and Pioneers Gate housing estate added to it.
l Witham Ward (two councillors, 3322 electorate) - includes Central Park, Market Place and the Stump.
l Old Leake and Wrangle (two, 2888) - includes parishes of Old Leake and Wrangle.
l Coastal (two, 2,997) - includes parishes of Bennington, Butterwick, Leverton and Freiston.
l Five Village (two, 3,174) - includes Bicker, Wigtoft, Sutterton, Algarkirk and Fosdyke.
l Swineshead and Holland Fen (two, 3,154) - includes parishes of Holland Fen and Brothertoft, Swineshead and Amber Hill.
l Kirton and Frampton (three, 5,211) includes parishes of Frampton and Kirton and includes Holme ward.