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Public consultation launched on plans to change Havering ward boundaries

Residents called for Squirrels Heath ward to be reinstated during a public consultation

People are being encouraged to have their say on proposals to change ward boundaries in Havering. 

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) is recommending the boundary of every ward is changed except Upminster. 

It has suggested 15 wards should be represented by three councillors rather than the current 14. This would give the borough a total of 55 councillors, one more than it currently has.

Squirrels Heath ward will also be reinstated after residents raised concerns the distinct local community would be split under the original plans. 

The original proposals (red) compared to the new ones (credit: LGBCE)

“We want to make sure these new electoral arrangements reflect communities,” said Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission. “We also want them to be easy to understand and convenient for local people.

“Residents and local organisations can help us do that. We would like them to let us know whether they agree with our proposals before we take final decisions.”

The changes have not been influenced by accusations of gerrymandering which were made against the leader of Havering Council, Damian White, in July 2020. 

A secret recording was released of Cllr White discussing ways in which he could manipulate ward boundary changes to make them “politically advantageous” to his Conservative party. 

More than 100 people raised concerns about the allegations during a public consultation which was held by the LGBCE between July and October. 

However, the LGBCE is an independent body and did not take the accusations into account when drafting the latest proposals. 

“The allegations are about the motives behind the submission,” explained a spokesperson for the Commission. “This is not something the Commission takes into account when analysing submissions.

“They are analysed solely on the basis of their content, and whether that content contains useful suggestions that would help the Commission balance its three statutory criteria of electoral equality, community identity, and efficient local government when making recommendations.”

“We consider all submissions equally, whether from a whole council or a single individual. We consider them only on the strength of argument, not on the motives that may lay behind them.”

A second public consultation has now been launched which will run until Monday, 8 March 2021. 

People are being encouraged to comment on the names of wards, their boundaries, and the number of councillors per ward. 

Residents can view more details about the proposals and respond to the consultation online here

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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