This is the submission that I have put to the Boundary Committee:
I present to you my views as Deputy Leader of the Conservative and Independent Alliance Group of the City Council.
You will by now be aware of the difficulty the City Council had in coming to a united decision on how to organise the warding arrangements based on a 45 member council at the Council meeting of the 7th. January.
What there was a united view that a 45member council was too small.
Our group believe that if we had the opportunity to have decided on 46 or 47 members the warding arrangements would have been successfully supported by a majority of the council.
The extra 1 or 2 members would have enabled the council to draw up wards of similar size and keep communities in their own natural areas rather than having to look to make up wards to try and get numbers something similar.
An example of this was the Meadow Lane Estate in Trentham which was suggested be transfered to a Blurton Ward.
The council previously agreed to one of the 14 recommendations of the Governance Commission and consulted on that basis of single member arrangements as instructed.
Public consultation was held and in some areas due to the un-natural nature of the wards the community asked for multi member arrangements to be considered.
Although you are not restricted to single member wards we as a council had been told that we could not ‘cherry pick’ any of the recommendations and we were therefore in a dilemma.
Members who had been ‘instructed’ to support single member wards, even though they personally were not in favour of them, were now faced with the dilemma of a hybrid view for some areas when that view had not been placed before their area because we consulted and expected single member arrangements.
It must be recognised that the work of the Administration and Appeals Committee under the chairmanship of Cllr. Alan Joynson in pulling together all of the representations was a superb piece of work. The problem was that this work highlighted the community view being different to the council’s predetermined position. This then placed the councillors in a position where they were expected to vote against the wishes of their community
The council officers had drawn up a series of options based on 45 to 48 members and this small increase gave a much better set of arrangements.
We realise that there is a set date for the end of presentations to you but since these new arrangements will stand for 20 to 30 years we would ask for an extension of a few weeks to enable the council to come to their preferred view which we believe would be 47 or 48 members.
We believe that the warding arrangements drawn up by our officers based on that number would receive substantial support.
We would ask that you consider the proposals drawn up by the council on a slightly larger number of members which we are sure you will agree give much better community connections.
If this delay is not possible then we make the following comments based on 45 members:
1. Single member wards are our preference since it gives a uniform mode of representation across the whole City and is easily understood.
2. Dual and triple member wards with a predominance of single member wards will lead to a lack of understanding of why an adjoining ward has 2 or 3 members and they have only 1.
3. The opposition to one area feeling dominated by another because of the name of the ward would be overcome if we returned to numbering the wards as used to be the case when we had 24 wards. I was elected firstly for ward 6 which later became Burslem Grange and yet I live in Sneyd Green. Numbering removes the conflict.
4. Should you be considering some multi member wards based on 45 members then the position and presentation I know you will be receiving from the Administration and Appeals Committee, represents the best way forward
Cllr Roger Ibbs
Deputy Leader Conservative & Independent Alliance.