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Councillors respond to Wyre Forest boundary proposals
COUNCILLORS have admitted they might not be able to stop Wyre Forest's boundaries being carved up "nonsensically" by an independent body.
There was anger from all sides of Wyre Forest District Council's chamber during its annual meeting on Wednesday last week at recommendations from the Independent Boundary Review Commission for England to slash the number of district wards from 17 to 11 - to accommodate a cut in councillors from 42 to 33 next year.
The review was sparked after the policy was given the go-ahead by councillors last year after being spearheaded by the ruling Conservatives, who have been accused of "inviting the commission in and not knowing how to stop it".
Councillors from all parties were angry the commission had put forward suggestions for controversial ward proposals such as bundling part of Stourport with Wribbenhall and Kidderminster Foreign in a Severn Valley ward and a Wyre Forest Rural "super ward" which would see Wolverley, Cookley, Blakedown and Chaddesley Corbett banded together.
As the body is independent, Wyre Forest councillors and residents can only make suggestions to the boundary commission but the final decision lies with them and the commission is must meet a ratio of one councillor per every 2,500 voters.
UK Independence Party (UKIP) councillor Michael Wrench said his group supported the reduction in councillor number but admitted the proposals were "way off the mark". "We should use the current Worcestershire County Council boundaries," he said. "The public needs to understand the changes."
An amendment by Labour to demand an answer from the commission as to why the recommendations were "so far off the mark" was turned down after the majority of councillors did not think it would help.
Independent councillor Helen Dyke said: "We can put forward what we think but whether they listen or not is up to them. It breaks up communities and roads, it is nonsensical."
Labour's Nigel Knowles said the problem went back to the Conservatives plans to save money by cutting the number of councillors rather than members allowances. "The Tories have let the commission in, now they don't know how to stop them," he added.
Conservative councillor John Campion, however, said: "We are going to have 33 councillors whether people like it or not." He added: "We cannot endorse the recommendations, we must note them and give our response to the report."
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