Have your say on shaping new West Suffolk Council wards

Local groups, councils and the public are being urged to have their say and help shape options on what the ward boundaries for the new West Suffolk Council could look like.

Both Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council have been backed by Government to replace the authorities with a new West Suffolk Council. With the order to create the new Council due in parliament later this month.

New council wards for the West Suffolk Council would have to be created as the suggested number of councillors should reduce, in line with guidance from 72 to 64.

People are being asked to look at the options which have been developed by the councils and are based on local information provided earlier this year as part of an informal engagement process.

At the moment these are just the councils’ initial ideas for the ward boundaries and replies to this engagement process will help shape the options that will be put forward to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) in April.

The LGBCE makes the final decision and will hold its own consultation over the summer. However, residents and organisations can also put their own proposals forward to the LGBCE for consideration.

This warding review will not affect either the external boundaries of West Suffolk or of any parish or town council. It will use the current parish and town council boundaries as the building blocks to create the district-level wards which will have an electorate of around 2,000 people.

People can view the maps of the suggested wards and help to shape the options that both Councils will put in front of members and eventually send to the LGBCE by visiting www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/wardoptions. Hard copies of the maps are also available to view at the Council offices in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Mildenhall.

Even if a single council was not being created both councils were due to have their wards reviewed.

Councillor Carol Bull, St Edmundsbury Borough and Councillor Ruth Bowman, Forest Heath District, Chair and Vice-Chair of the of the Future Governance Steering Group, in a joint statement said: “One of the things we thought was crucial in creating this new council was that there should continue to be good local accountability across West Suffolk. We want to hear people’s views on our initial suggestions for the ward boundaries so that we can put the best proposals forward to the boundary commission. We would like to thank the organisations and people that submitted suggestions earlier this year and passed on local knowledge of how our communities are linked and are working together. We recognise there may not be a perfect solution to the ward boundaries but the feedback we received has been an excellent help and we now need more views to help shape the options that will go forward. Of course, these are just our proposals, if you don’t have a chance to respond then you will have another chance when the boundary commission consult on their proposals this summer and you can also send your own suggestions. The final decision will be LGBCE’s”

The consultation ends on the 28 March 2018.