Local electoral arrangements finalised for South Somerset District Council
Today's publication follows a public consultation on its draft proposals and draws new boundaries for each council ward across South Somerset.
The Commission's final recommendations propose that South Somerset should be represented by 60 district councillors in the future: the same as the current arrangements. The recommendations also propose that those councillors should represent seven three-councillor wards, eleven two-councillor wards and seventeen one-councillor wards across the district.
Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said, "We are extremely grateful to people across South Somerset who took part in the review. The Commission has looked at all the evidence that was put forward during the consultation.
"We believe these recommendations deliver electoral fairness for voters as well as reflecting community ties throughout South Somerset."
In response to local feedback during consultation, the Commission has changed some of the proposals it put forward in January. For example, the Commission has listened to local feedback that suggested the parish of Corton Denham should be part of Blackmoor Vale ward rather than Ivelchester as previously proposed. Similar arguments were made during consultation for Henstridge and Charlton Horethorne parishes to be included in Blackmoor Vale ward. The Commission has changed its recommendations to reflect those views.
Local people and organisations also argued that the parish of Yarlington should not be included in a ward with Wincanton but should remain in a Cary ward. The Commission was persuaded by the evidence and has ensured that the Cary ward retains its existing boundaries with the exception of South Cadbury & Sutton Montis parish, which will move into the neighbouring ward of Blackmoor Vale to improve electoral equality for voters. Elsewhere in the east of the district, the Commission has also made changes to its draft proposals so that the parish of Rimpton will be included in Camelot ward rather than Ivelchester as a better reflection of community ties in this area.
Finally in this part of the district, the Commission has accepted arguments made against its draft recommendation to combine the Wincanton and Tower areas into a single ward to be represented by three councillors. Instead, and in line with local views, the area will be represented by a Wincanton ward to be represented by two councillors and a Tower ward to be represented by one councillor.
Due to changes made to neighbouring wards and evidence presented during consultation, the Commission has decided to change its recommendations in the central part of South Somerset. This means the area will be covered by a Northstone, Ivelchester & St Michael's ward to be represented by three councillors rather than three separate wards as proposed in the draft recommendations.
In the south west of the district, the Commission had proposed combining Ilminster and Neroche in a single ward. However, after considering local evidence about community ties, the Commission has amended its recommendations so that the two areas are included in separate wards.
The Commission has also changed its proposals in the Parrett and Coker areas so that the parish of Hardington Mandeville remains in Coker ward. As part of this change, Chiselborough parish will be included in Parrett ward.
In response to local views in Yeovil, the Commission has amended the draft ward boundaries for Yeovil Without ward so that it will include the whole of the Brimsmore development and be represented by three councillors rather than two as previously proposed.
Full details of the final recommendations are available on the Commission's website at www.lgbce.org.uk.
The proposed new arrangements must now be implemented by Parliament. A draft Order - the legal document which brings into force the recommendations - will be laid in Parliament in the coming months. The draft Order provides for the new electoral arrangements to come into force at the council elections in 2019.