Royal Borough agrees review of ward boundaries

Reporter:

Grace Witherden

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The next local elections could see fewer councillors on the Royal Borough after the council agreed to review its ward boundaries.

Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside), leader of the council, presented the item at full council on Tuesday and hopes the review will save the council ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’.

The council has asked the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to review its 23 wards’ boundaries which could see its total number of councillors reduced from 57 by May 2019.

Cllr Dudley said the borough has the lowest average electors-to-councillors ratio in Berkshire, with 1,897 per councillor, while the country’s average is 2,222.

The last electoral review took place in 2001.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “Council voted to endorse the review which will be carried out by the Local Government Boundary Commission.

“They will look at all the wards with the same scrutiny, so we could see a change in the amount of wards we have in the borough and the number of councillors in each ward.

“For example, we could see Oldfield split into two new wards, Oldfield Town Centre and Oldfield North and each could be represented by two councillors.

“We’ve got to look at the future growth of each ward, and it will take into account housing in the Borough Local Plan.

“It’s highly likely the review will see a reduction in the number of councillors, we need to make the council more efficient.”

In the report which was published on Tuesday afternoon, it states that four wards are currently ‘imbalanced’.

They are Eton and Castle, Hurley and the Walthams, Sunninghill and South Ascot, which has the lowest electors-to-councillors ratio, and Oldfield, which has the highest ratio with each councillor representing 2,278 electors.

Cllr Malcolm Beer (Ind, Old Windsor) said although he supported the report, he criticised the council for only publishing it hours before the meeting.

He said: “This has been sprung on us at such short notice, there was a press release put out half an hour before the reports were sent to members.”

Cllr Dudley apologised for the late report and said it was because the Conservative Group only agreed it on Monday.

The meeting took place at Maidenhead Town Hall.

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