Tug-of-war over Newport boundary change should be decided within two months
A tug-of-war between two councils over who should govern 50 acres of development land in Newport should be resolved in the next two months.
Chetwynd Aston and Woodcote Parish Council currently governs the land between the A518, Springfield Industrial Estate and Station Road, where there is planning permission for 500 new homes.
But last spring Newport Town Council submitted a 700-name petition asking to take it over, arguing the new residents would use their town’s schools, shops and facilities, and identify with it.
The move would also harmonise the local councils’ border with the Telford and Wrekin borough council ward boundaries.
But after two consultation periods, Telford and Wrekin Council officers recommend no change to the current arrangement, and the Boundary Review committee has agreed to go on a site visit.
In a report before the committee, elections team leader Dave Bowen and solicitor Alison Coburn noted that a 9:7 majority of consultation responses supported their no-change recommendation.
“Mere opinion as to where new residents will go for their schools and facilities is not conclusive enough to support a change in the boundary,” the report said.
It added that CA&W, which has an electorate of around 400, is “able and willing to welcome a potentially large number of new residents into the community and, with the additional precept charges that it will receive, it will be able to provide for and tailor residents’ requirements”.
Boundary committee chairman Councillor Angela McClements pointed out that in two previous meetings about the issue they had heard requests for a site visit.
“We have to be seen to be fair,” she said.
Councillor Ian Fletcher disagreed, saying he “couldn’t see any reason for a site visit”, and said delaying the decision further would mean more than a year would pass between the original petition and the final decision.
Mr Bowen said national guidance suggested they should resolve the issue within 12 months, but added that this was a recommendation and not a legally-binding deadline. Councillor Fletcher was outvoted three to one.
Speaking after the meeting, Newport mayor Peter Scott said he hoped the site visit would help the committee members see the town council’s point of view.
He added: “Once the committee stand in those fields and they can physically see the A518 boundary for the borough and they can see the Station Court boundary for the parish, they will see the lack of common sense in having separate boundaries so close together.”
The Boundary Review committee’s eventual decision will have to be ratified by a full council vote.
By Alex Moore, local democracy reporter