Concern at political merger of two towns

ONE is a seaside town loved by tourists, while the other is better known for its industrial heritage.Now there are concerns at plans to merge the political boundaries of Aldeburgh and Leiston – with some councillors claiming the two have little in common.

By Sarah Chambers

ONE is a seaside town loved by tourists, while the other is better known for its industrial heritage.

Now there are concerns at plans to merge the political boundaries of Aldeburgh and Leiston – with some councillors claiming the two have little in common.

The idea is to make a single new county council seat as part of a boundary shake-up, meaning one councillor will be responsible for both areas.


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County councillors Joan Girling, who represents Clay Hills (including Leiston and Saxmundham) and Ron Ward, who represents Plomesgate (including Aldeburgh and Snape) have both voiced doubts about the merits of the proposed change.

"I don't agree with it at all," said Cllr Ward. "I don't think Aldeburgh and Leiston have got anything in common at all."

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He pointed out that while Aldeburgh was a seaside resort, Leiston was an industrial town.

"To lump the two together I don't think is right," he said. But he stressed that they were just proposals which were there to be discussed by the council.

Cllr Girling said: "I actually think that Leiston and Saxmundham fit comfortably together as a community. I don't know if I would say the same for Leiston and Aldeburgh."

She said she was still "getting her head" around the proposals, adding: "In this instance I just think it feels wrong."

She said she "would have to be convinced" the change was going to be better for the voting public.

"I feel very uncomfortable with what is being suggested," she said. "I think it ought to be more about natural communities rather than just dealing with the numbers."

The proposals, drawn up by a county council working group in response to the start of a Boundary Commission electoral review, are due to be discussed at a county council seminar next week before the matter goes to a public meeting by the council on April 10.

At the moment, the two towns are part of separate county council seats. Plomesgate has Aldeburgh, Aldringham-cum-Thorpe, Friston, Knodishall, Sternfield, Snape, Benhall, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham, while Clay Hills includes Leiston, Saxmundham, Kelsale-cum-Carlton and Theberton.

The Boundary Commission has begun a periodic review of the county council's divisional boundaries to ensure as far as possible that each councillor represents the same number of voters.

It follows changes to the district council ward boundaries, and the aim is as far as possible to match the county council boundaries to the ward changes. Any changes would come into effect for the May 2005 elections.

A county council working group has prepared three sets of alternative boundaries, based on having 75, 80 and 85 councillors, for discussion. Each of the proposed boundary changes they have come up with combines Leiston and Aldeburgh.

The county council will present its first submission to the Boundary Committee in April. The Boundary Committee will consider their submission, and any others they receive. The committee is due to publish its recommendations in September, when there will be a six-week consultation period.

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