Shropshire Star

Conservative councillor says boundary changes would make council more representative

Councillors across Telford & Wrekin are digesting proposals that, if implemented, could see wards split, merge, expand or contract in their areas.

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The boundary proposals would re-shape the electoral map of Telford & Wrekin

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has reviewed the borough’s political map, following a request from the council itself nearly two years ago.

The proposed changes include splitting Newport’s two two-member wards to make four single-member divisions.

Independent councillor Peter Scott said this would “make no real difference” but Liberal Democrat Thomas Janke praised one-member wards, saying they “provide the strongest accountability to residents”.

The Donnington ward is in line to take over 13 streets from two neighbouring wards.

Donnington and Muxton Parish Council chairman Thomas Hoof said that, borough-wide, the changes “weren’t perfect” but said would help make the borough council more representative.

Telford & Wrekin Council’s Boundary Review Committee requested the review in 2020, after a report said the borough-wide voters-per-councillor ratio was 2,389 but, due to new housing and population shifts, some wards varied far above and below this.

Brookside was 12.8 per cent below while Horsehay and Lightmoor – which incorporates the growing area of Lawley – was 13.2 per cent above.

The LGBCE held a two-month consultation over summer 2021 and used evidence it gathered to form its proposed ward pattern.

Its draft is now under public consultation, and residents can view it online at and have until February 7 to submit their comments.

Newport is currently divided into two wards, 'North and West' and 'South and East'. The LGBCE proposes splitting these.

Conservative Newport North and West councillor Tim Nelson noted that Newport had a similar four-ward arrangement from the inception of Telford & Wrekin Council in 1998 until the 2015 election.

However, following a previous LGBCE review of the council between 2012 and 2014, the 2015 and 2019 elections were fought across two two-member wards.

“We must assume there is, and was, a good reason both times,” he said.

He added that, until the change goes ahead, he represents the whole of the North and West ward and will continue to work across it.

Councillor Scott, Councillor Nelson’s ward-mate, said he thinks “the wards should never have changed”.

He noted that Newport’s town council has four wards “and the borough boundaries should reflect that”.

“We will retain four members so it makes no real difference,” he added.

Councillor Janke, one of the two Newport South and East councillors, said: “The proposed changes are positive for Newport.

“For as long as we have our current voting system, single-member wards provide the strongest accountability to residents, and are thus the best guarantor of the integrity of councillors.”

Two other proposed changes would also mean reverting to an arrangement similar to the pre-2015 period.

Until the 2014 review, Cuckoo Oak had its own division and Edgmond and Ercall Magna were separate wards.

For the 2015 and 2019 elections, Cuckoo Oak was incorporated into three-member Madeley and Sutton Hill, and Edgmond and Ercall Magna were combined.

The latest LGBCE proposal suggests spinning Sutton Hill off from the Madeley ward and re-splitting Edgmond and Ercall Magna for the 2023 poll.

Councillor Stephen Bentley, one of two Conservatives currently representing Edgmond and Ercall Magna, said he had no problem with the change but was unsure of the reason behind it.

The LGBCE also proposes changes to some ward boundaries.

For example, the Donnington ward will take on six streets – all west of Donnington Wood way – from Muxton and seven more from Priorslee. These would bring its electorate from 4,711 to 5,743, with that figure forecast to grow to 5,900 by 2027.

Councillor Hoof said: “I welcome the proposals as a whole as they go a great way to making every vote count, for too long some parts of Telford have had a disproportionate amount of councillors compared to others.”

He said “this will lead to Telford & Wrekin Council being more representative of the overall vote share”.

He noted that, in the 2015 Telford & Wrekin Council election, Conservative candidates received 55,721 votes compared to Labour’s 52,325, but Labour won 27 to 24 on seats.

“This was clearly wrong,” Councillor Hoof said.

“Although the proposals aren’t perfect and some of the names used for specific wards could do with adjusting, this is a great step forward.”