New Forest District Council agrees to cut members by 20%

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nfdc members cut
NFDC councillors following the 2019 elections (Photo: Chris Balcombe)

MEMBERS of New Forest District Council have accepted a proposal to reduce their numbers by a fifth at the next election.

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The likely cut of 12 councillors means that when voters go to the polls in 2023 there will be only 48 seats across the area up for grabs.

Members formally ratified NFDC’s response to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s (LGBCE) proposal at their latest meeting at Appletree Court in Lyndhurst.

Although the details were driven by the commission, NFDC had suggested the initial scale of the cut.

Currently there are 34 wards with most returning two members. Council reports have suggested the move could save about £78,000 a year.

The commission made initial suggestions over the map redrawing and ward names before public consultations. The town and parish councils at Lymington and Hythe had suggested amendments to proposals for their areas, the meeting heard.

The Lymington alteration was successfully proposed by Cllr Anne Corbridge and suggested separately calling the town’s pair of wards, each covered by two members, Lymington and Pennington.

Local members Cllr Jack Davies and Cllr Jacqui England were unhappy at the ward changes with Cllr Davies arguing it appeared the process was “more about the numbers game than about the communities involved”.

The Hythe change was passed without complaint. It amended two wards both with three members to three wards each with two councillors: Hythe South, Hythe Central, and Dibden and Dibden Purlieu. Cllr Malcolm Wade said it “better reflected” the make-up of the village.

The main aim of the review was to rebalance the local political map so each councillor represents roughly the same number of citizens, while also reflecting the interests and identities of communities across the New Forest.

NFDC will now submit its formal response to the LGBCE, which will assess the document before publishing its final recommendation on 1st December.

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