Elmbridge Council should lose a fifth of its councillors an official review has declared
A report published by the Local Boundary Commission today stated Elmbridge should lose 12 of its 60 councillors as part of a raft of recommendations, sparking worries the borough could lose its identity in the potential reshuffle ahead of the council elections in May.
The commission’s final recommendations say the reduction in councillors “will ensure the Council can perform its roles and responsibilities effectively”, while the remaining 48 councillors will be spread out across 16 three-member wards in the borough.
A reduction from 22 wards to 16 could also see districts such as Hersham South and Hersham North merged into one ward, with some areas handed over to Esher and Weybridge councillors.
Current Hersham North councillor Roy Green called the decision a “sad day for Hersham” in a Facebook post, adding: “It’s an absolute bonkers decision and has only come about because the Tories running Elmbridge wanted to reduce the size of the council despite an ever increasing population increase.
“The only good news from the report is that Hersham Library will remain in the new Hersham Village ward.
The publication followed an eight week public consultation.
St George’s Hill councillor Brian Fairclough said: “I’d like to know how much it will all cost, as it will mean more work for the councillors which is a pity.
“Unless you’ve been a councillor you don’t realise how much work there is to do and that’s whether you’re proactive or reactive.
“Elmbridge faces some massive changes and Weybridge is now overdeveloped with not enough parking. There seems no way to stop that and it takes a lot of councillor’s time to stop it.
“Elmbridge needs to retain its identity so the smaller places like Weston Green retain their identity. You can’t just change it. So whilst on paper you can argue it’s reducing the number of councillors it could actually take away from the fabric of the area.”
Chairman of the commission, Professor Colin Mellors, said: “Across the borough, we have sought to balance the views expressed to us by local people with the criteria we must apply when we are deciding on new electoral arrangements.
“As such, we believe these recommendations deliver electoral equality for voters as well as reflecting the identities of communities in Elmbridge.”
The proposed recommendations must now be implemented by Parliament, where a draft order will be laid in Parliament in the coming months.