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Final changes to West Berkshire wards announced

New political map reduces number of councillors to 43 and wards to 24

Final changes to West Berkshire wards announced

THE final plan outlining West Berkshire’s new ward boundaries has been drawn up.

West Berkshire Council is currently made up of 52 councillors representing 30 wards.

But in a move expected to save £70,000 a year and make the district council more efficient, the number of councillors will be reduced to 43 and the number of wards to 24. 

Five three-councillor wards, nine two-councillor wards and 10 one-councillor wards will form the new political map of West Berkshire under recommendations published by the independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

Council leader Graham Jones (Con, Lambourn) said: “They seem to have accepted quite a number of our suggested changes, so that’s positive.

“I think we have got a frustration, particularly around Newbury within big wards; Greenham coming into the centre of Newbury, which we feel doesn’t reflect the community as well as it could do but certainly a big improvement on the last proposals. 

“We did this to make elected members closer to the communities they represent

“We still think they could have made a number of smaller wards, which would have helped that representation.  

“The really positive thing is to reduce the size of the council and the burden that has on council tax payers.

“A smaller council will be more efficient.” 

The changes will see a Newbury Greenham ward and Newbury Wash Common ward, each represented by three councillors. 

Hungerford and Kintbury wards will merge to create a three-councillor ward, as will Burghfield and Mortimer and Tilehurst and Purley.

The commission had proposed fusing Aldermaston and Bucklebury into one ‘super ward’.

But, following concern from West Berkshire Council and parish councils, the commission has dropped the scheme.

Instead, three wards (Aldermaston, Bucklebury and Bradfield) will each be represented by one councillor each. 

Proposals for Thatcham have also been amended to have three two councillor wards and one single councillor ward.

And plans for a Basildon and Compton ward, to be represented by two councillors, have also been dropped after residents said that community identities would be represented better by two one-councillor wards.

A Basildon ward alongside a Ridgeway ward, both represented by one councillor, is being proposed instead.

Elsewhere, a Newbury Speen ward and Chieveley and Cold Ash ward, each represented by two councillors, have survived the consultation process. 

The commission has also made minor changes to its recommendations to reflect local evidence as well as adding the prefix Newbury to wards representing the town.

Chair of the commission, professor Colin Mellors, said: “We are extremely grateful to people across West Berkshire who took part in the review.

“The commission has looked at all the evidence that was put forward during the consultation.

“We believe these recommendations deliver electoral fairness for voters as well as reflecting community ties throughout West Berkshire.”

Full details of the final recommendations are available on the commission’s website at www.lgbce.org.uk   

The proposals must now be implemented by Parliament and a draft order will be made in the coming months.

The new electoral arrangements are expected to come into force at council elections in 2019.

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