DO you know about the Woodbridge proposed district council boundary changes? Will they matter to you?
Our local MP, Therese Coffey has suggested, and the Local Government Boundary Commission propose extending the Woodbridge district ward out to Great and Little Bealings and Hasketon.
If you think this isn’t sensible – or if you do – get onto the Local Government Boundary Commission website and join the consultation: they want to hear from you. You can even use their interactive map to draw an improved version! You have until 28 April.
I personally do not think it is geographically sensible, nor do I think it fits any convenience or criterion other than that of mere number crunching. (And that to a degree that is by no means essential to any argument.) My colleagues agree with me.
This therefore is the submission that your Woodbridge Lib Dem Councillors at County, District and Town have submitted to the LGBC:
We, the elected Liberal Democrat Councillors representing Woodbridge, wish to comment on the draft proposal, with particular reference to paragraphs 91 to 96.
We accept the arguments by all who put the case that Woodbridge and Martlesham North be regarded as a single electoral area, the latter being effectively an overspill allied to the town of Woodbridge. There is no suggestion by any of those putting cases as to how to redraw ward boundaries to make these 3 single member wards, and we cannot see any clear arguments for such a re-drawing. The territory would thus logically fit a simple 3 Councillor ward, being entirely urban, and geographically compact. The elector figures for 2014 amount to 6428 and for 2019 to 6544; both figures lie quite comfortably within the outside variation of 10% from the norm sought.
However, the proposal by the local M.P., supported by the Inspector, that the rural parishes of Hasketon with Great and Little Bealings be lumped in with Woodbridge does not appear to meet the terms of reference requiring a reflection of identities, local ties and identifiable boundaries. None of the criteria set out are satisfied, except the convenience of playing with numbers.
The Bealings villages are tucked geographically beside Playford, Culpho and Grundisburgh; the Inspector’s recommendation for a Grundisburgh ward with fewer that average electors could absorb the two Bealings parishes, thus combining genuinely rural parishes in a single ward. Hasketon, which the M.P. and the Inspector suggest should fall into a Woodbridge ward, is also sited beside Grundisburgh, with common borders aligned also to Boulge, Burgh and Debach. Any logical view of a Grundisburgh-centred ward should therefore include Hasketon, even if this results in an electorate marginally above the average.
We suggest furthermore that a large ward centred on the urban population of Woodbridge has no conceivable common interest with Hasketon (population 314), Great Bealings (230) or Little Bealings (360), with the added problem that these 3 parishes are the ‘wrong’ side of the A12.
Woodbridge is a sizeable, compact town with a population over 6000. Its character and identity over the last half century owes much to the early by-passing of the A12, making Woodbridge a sought-after destination for visitors, beneficial tourism, yachtsmen, shoppers and property buyers.
We can see no logic in pretending it has interests or character in common with Hasketon or either of the Bealings parishes. Furthermore, the two Bealings parishes recognise themselves as having a commonality with Playford, with whom they have produced a joint Neighbourhood Plan, recently accepted by the District Council as appropriate.
We therefore conclude that our suggestion for a Woodbridge ward boundary falls within the terms of reference of the exercise, as does our definite proposal for excluding Hasketon and the two Bealings. Thus we recommend a 3 councillor ward comprising Woodbridge and Martlesham North.
Signed on behalf of Woodbridge Liberal Democrats by
Caroline Page, County Councillor
Diana Ball, Town and District Councillor
Kay Yule, Town Councillor
Vic Harrup, Town Councillor
Patrick Gillard, Town Councillor