Boundary changes branded ‘insult to Flintshire’s people’

Reporter:

Kate Forrester

PLANS by the Boundary Commission to merge centuries-old towns and villages have been branded “an insult” to the people of Flintshire.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales has released draft proposals that could see Flintshire’s 70 county councillors reduced by 10 by combining existing electoral wards and cutting numbers.

It would mean villages up to eight miles apart being thrown together and residents of major towns seeing their votes transferred to nearby villages.

The cuts would take effect across the county and several community leaders have claimed they would strike at the heart of local democracy.

One of the most unpopular suggestions among community leaders would see Flint’s existing six councillors halved, with part of the town being combined with neighbouring Bagillt for electoral purposes.

The town’s Coleshill ward and one of its two councillors would be axed and its voters transferred to Bagillt, with three councillors representing the new division.

The remaining three wards in Flint would be combined to make one large ward, called Flint Town, which would also be covered by three councillors.

Flint Coleshill councillor and former council leader Alex Aldridge said: “These proposals are complete madness.

“Getting rid of Coleshill would mean the councillors covering the new ward would serve an area stretching from Halkyn Road in Flint to the Canton Garage in Greenfield.

“It will be impossible for us to continue to provide the support and service that we always have done.

“These pen-pushers at the Boundary Commission have just decided to get rid of Coleshill ward without a thought for its history and the people living here.”

Flint Castle councillor Ian Roberts called the plans “an insult” to residents in Flint and Bagillt.

He said: “These proposals run against the democratic nature of local government.”
If the plans go ahead Holywell and Greenfield would become one ward, Halkyn, Northop and New Brighton – three villages more than eight miles apart – would be placed together to make a new division called ‘Fownog’, and Connah’s Quay would lose one of its seven councillors.

Hawarden, Penyffordd and Higher Kinnerton would be combined as well as Sealand and Queensferry, Aston and Shotton and Broughton and Saltney.

Saltney Mold Junction councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun said: “This is the most ludicrous and stupid idea I have ever heard. Saltney and Saltney Ferry are completely different to Broughton and Bretton, with their own history and people. Trying to mix them will not work and I think this should be stopped at all costs.”

Other areas, including Buckley and Mold, would retain their councillors but the number of individual wards would be reduced.

Flintshire Council must now decide whether it will accept the draft proposals. If they are rejected, the local authority must put forward alternative suggestions.

The county’s political groups will meet individually this week to discuss their options.

See full story in the Leader

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