PLANS to axe a dozen New Forest District Council members in time for the next local elections have been thrown open for public comment.
The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is drawing up fresh electoral boundaries to slash the number of members on NFDC from 60 to 48.
The reduction, whose scale was suggested by the district council itself, will end up with councillors representing hundreds more voters at the next poll in 2023.
At the moment there are 34 wards with most of them returning two members. Council reports have suggested the move could save about £78,000 a year.
The main aim of the review is to rebalance the local political map so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of citizens, while also reflecting the interests and identities of communities across New Forest.
Currently some voters get more bang for their ballot with nearly a quarter of NFDC wards differing by 10% from its average ratio of voters-to-councillors – one by as much as 20%. The change would also bring the council into line with similar-scale authorities.
Commission chair Prof. Colin Mellors urged local residents and organisations to get involved, promising to take into account “local community identities”.
He said: “If you have a view about which communities or neighbourhoods should be part of the same council ward, then we want to hear from you.
“And if you think a road, river or railway makes for a strong boundary between communities in your part of New Forest, then this consultation is for you.
“If you’re interested in the way the district is run, just log on to our website to explore our interactive maps and have your say. Your views will make a difference.”
The review is focused solely on the district council. Town and parish councils will not be affected.
The deadline for comments in 2nd March 2020. Residents will be consulted again after June when the draft recommendations will be published by the commission.