The Local Government Commission for England has produced its final recommendations for council elections in our District. There will be all-out elections next May to elect 39 councillors. There will be 13 wards with 3 councillors in each.
In the west of Rayleigh and Rawreth there will be two district wards:
Downhall and Rawreth Ward , comprising the existing Downhall and Rawreth ward plus the Victoria Avenue area which is currently in Sweyne Park ward.
Sweyne Park and Grange Ward, comprising the remaining part of the current Sweyne Park Ward plus all of the existing Grange Ward.
Incidentally the Deepdene Avenue area will be staying in Downhall and Rawreth despite earlier proposals.
There are also changes to the Town Council wards, and this is where it gets really confusing. At the moment residents in the west of Rayleigh are served by two town Councillors for Downhall, three town councillors for Sweyne Park, and three town councillors for Grange.
The “Downhall” area is going to stay the same size, but get three town councillors and be renamed “Sweyne Park”. The “Victoria” area will become a little ward on its own called “Victoria” with just one Councillor. The remaining area will be called “Grange” and have four town councillors.
The really confusing aspect is that the “Downhall” area for the town council is being renamed “Sweyne Park” even though there is no overlap at all with the “Sweyne Park and Grange” district ward! So someone living in , say, Teignmouth Drive will be voting for Sweyne Park councillors for the Town Council but not for the District Council.
At last night’s Town Council meeting, Ron Oatham and Bruce Smart made a last-ditch bid to keep the existing “Downhall” name for the Town Council area. They asked that the Council write to the Commission and Mark Francois, and were supported by independent Councillor Chris Lumley. Most of the Conservatives abstained (they felt it too late to do anything) but one Conservative voted against, so the vote was won 3-1 and a letter will now be sent off.
This may not be the biggest issue in the world but anything that makes local democracy harder to understand should be avoided…