Democracy

ABC withdraw from merger plans

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) has announced today (Wednesday 25th January), that it no longer intends to pursue discussions on the proposed creation of a single East Kent district council.

In July last year ABC’s Cabinet approved a Statement of Intent to explore a potential merger of the five East Kent district councils. Those five authorities – Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet – jointly commissioned the independent production of a business case to investigate the advantages, disadvantages and potential mechanisms for a merger.

Following receipt and independent examination of the business case, the authority has decided to not continue talks any further, but to retain flexibility to enable ABC to consider working with the other authorities and partners throughout Kent or those outside the county in the future.

A formal decision will be made in February when members consider a report put to Cabinet and then Full Council. (more…)

Consultation on ABC draft warding proposals

Boundary CommissionThe Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) has announced the dates for the public consultation on draft recommendations for warding for Ashford District as 7 February 2017 to 3 April 2017.

This will be the second stage of consultation during the Electoral Review of Ashford. South Ashford Community Forum’s proposal for wards for the unparished area of South Ashford can be viewed here: https://southashford.org.uk/index.php/2016/08/09/sacf-electoral-review-proposal/. Other submissions can be viewed on the LGBCE website www.lgbce.org.uk/current-reviews/south-east/kent/ashford

The aim of the electoral review is to recommend ward boundaries that mean each councillor represents approximately the same number of voters. The Commission also aims to ensure that the pattern of wards reflects the interests and identities of local communities as well as promoting effective local government.

We will post the announcement of the consultation.

Boundary Review recommendations delayed

Boundary CommissionPublication of draft recommendations for ward boundaries for Ashford Borough Council, which was due to today (5th November), has been delayed, The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has added an announcement to its website saying “New dates for the consultation on the Commission’s draft recommendations for Ashford District Council will be published shortly.”

Any decision on ABC wards could be superfluous if ABC merges with other East Kent district councils, a possibility currently being considered by the leaders of the councils of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet.

Related stories:

Kent’s PCC launches policing survey

pcc_logoPolicing in Kent 2017-2021: Autumn 2016 survey

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner

Opens: 10 Oct 2016
Closes: 2 December 2016

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner is asking people which policing priorities matter most to them.

As he prepares to write his Police and Crime Plan for 2017-2021, Matthew Scott has published a short public survey as part of a wider consultation process. The survey was launched on World Mental Health Day (10 October) in honour of the fact that mental health is the ‘golden thread’ that runs through the current plan.

Mr Scott said: ‘Mental health is not only an issue I care deeply about, but also one that has become much more important within the police and criminal justice system. It is estimated that a third of police time is now spent dealing with people who have a mental health issue and it is in everyone’s interests to ensure there is an effective response.

The existing Police and Crime Plan ends on 31 March 2017, to be replaced with a new plan for 2017 – 2021. I have a duty to consult with victims and the wider community so I want to know what matters most to you.

‘Please take the time to fill out my short survey and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to fill one in as well.’ (more…)

Council merger information evening

dcmergeYesterday evening, 6th October 2016, Canterbury City Council held evening to provide its residents with information on discussions about the possible merger of five district councils in East Kent. The councils involved are Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet.

Bob Shrubb, Chair of South Ashford Community Forum (SACF) attended the event and has prepared his own notes on the meeting. Bob says the notes include his own views and the matter has not been discussed at SACF.

Bob’s notes can be viewed here
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8rLNXpJBFJ8R0ZBRHdSWHp6TUU

2018 Boundary Review initial proposals launched

bce_306_aw_1Boundary Commission for England

Opens: 13 September 2016
Closes: 5 December 2016

The independent Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has published its initial proposals for new Parliamentary constituencies. The publication marks the start of 12 weeks of consultation, during which the Commission needs to hear from you to help shape the proposed new constituency boundaries.

Following a decision by Parliament to reduce the number of constituencies in the UK to 600 from 650, and to ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is more equal, the BCE has been asked to make independent recommendations about where the boundaries of English constituencies should be. The BCE must report to Parliament in 2018 and, if agreed by Parliament, the new constituencies will be in use at the next scheduled General Election in 2020.

Publication of the initial proposals today is the first time people get to see what the map of new constituencies might look like. The rules that the Commission works to are such that wide scale change is inevitable. Under the proposals announced today, only 68 of the existing 533 English constituencies remain unchanged.

The proposals for Ashford would see large parts of the west of the existing Ashford Constituency,  moved to a new constituency named High Weald and a swathe of the existing Folkestone and Hythe Constituency moved to Ashford.

The towns and villages that would be moved out of the constituency include Charing Heath, Egerton, Little Chart, Smarden, Bethersden, Biddenden, High Halden, Tenterden, Rolvenden, Small Hythe and Newenden. The villages moved into Ashford would include Hastingleigh, Brabourne, Smeeth, Aldington, Bonnington, Bilsington and Ruckinge.

Sam Hartley, Secretary to the Commission, said: ‘Today’s proposals mark the first time people get to see what the new map of Parliamentary constituencies might look like. But they are just the Commission’s initial thoughts – during the next 12 weeks we want people to take a look and tell us what they like and don’t like about our proposals. Parliament has set us tight rules about reducing the number of constituencies, and making them of more equal size, and we now need the views of people around the country to help us shape constituencies that best reflect local areas. Use our website to tell us what you think, or come along to one of our public events to give us your views in person.’

It is easier than ever to get involved, by using the BCE’s website at www.bce2018.org.uk or by coming along to a public hearing in your area. People can comment on anything from where the proposed new boundary lines are to the names of the constituencies. The consultation closes on 5 December 2016. There will be a further two rounds of consultation in 2017. Following the conclusion of all three consultation periods, the BCE will look at all the evidence received and make final recommendations to Parliament in September 2018.

The nearest public hearings will be held on 3-4th November at County Hall, Maidstone. Attendance must be booked in advance via the links from the BCE consultation page www.bce2018.org.uk/node/6488?postcode=TN234EY

Boundary Commission for England 12 September, 2016
http://boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk/2018-boundary-review-initial-proposals-launched/

ABC Boundary Proposal to go to Council

ABC warding proposal for South Ashford

ABC ward boundary proposal for South Ashford

On Thursday, Ashford Borough Councillors will be shown proposals for ward boundaries that are being submitted to the Local Government Boundary for England (LGBCE) by the Council. South Ashford Community Forum (SACF) believe that the ABC proposal fails to use the opportunity to address issues with the existing warding arrangement, identified in SACF’s submission and in some respects makes them worse.

The submission is the Councils’s response to the LGBCE’s consultation on warding arrangements, undertaken as part of an Electoral Review of the Borough.

Proposals have to be submitted to LGBCE by Monday, after which they will consider all submissions and produce their Draft Recommendations. A consultation on these is due to start on 8 November 2016.

The ABC proposal can be viewed on the Council Agenda page on the ABC website, https://secure.ashford.gov.uk/committeesystem/ViewAgenda.aspx?MeetingId=3030&MemberRef=23. We have shown an approximate representation of the proposal for South Ashford wards in the attached plan.

SACF’s submission can be viewed under Local Information / Representation / Electoral Review on the South Ashford website https://southashford.org.uk/index.php/2016/08/09/sacf-electoral-review-proposal/

Have your say on new council ward boundaries for Ashford

Proposed ward arrangement

Ward boundaries proposed by SACF

South Ashford Community Forum (SACF) want to know the views of residents of South Ashford on a draft proposal that they have prepared for submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE). The proposal is in response to a request from LGBCE for help in drawing up a new pattern of council wards for Ashford Borough Council.

The LGBCE is the independent organisation that provides electoral arrangements for English local authorities that are fair for voters and keeps the map of English local government in good repair.

The consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will re-draw ward boundaries across the borough.

The Commission has also announced that it is minded to recommend that the council should have 47 borough councillors in the future: four more than the current arrangements.

The Commission now needs information from people and groups across Ashford to help it to produce a new pattern of wards to accommodate 47 councillors.

In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission aims to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Ashford.

SACF’s proposal can be viewed on the South Ashford website, under Local Information / Representation / Electoral Review, https://southashford.org.uk/index.php/2016/08/09/sacf-electoral-review-proposal/.

Result of Beaver Ward by-election

Ballot boxRyan MacPherson has been elected as councillor for Beaver Ward. Beaver Ward is now represented by Ryan McPherson and Beverley Murphy.

The result of the Beaver Ward by-election, announced by Ashford Borough Council, is as follows:

  • Joanna Gideon (Conservative) 240
  • Caroline Harris (Labour) 243
  • Ryan MacPherson (UKIP) 373
  • Elizabeth Wright (Green) 31

The turnout was 21.3%

The declaration was made just after 11.10pm on 4th August

The political composition of Ashford Borough Council is now as follows:

  • 35        Conservative (C)
  • 2          Labour (L)
  • 3          Ashford Independent (AI)
  • 1          Liberal Democrat (LD)
  • 2          UK Independence Party (UKIP)

Ashford Borough Council 5 August 2016
www.ashford.gov.uk/news/result-of-beaver-ward-byelection-5th-aug-1432/

Beaver Ward Councillor retires

Ashford Beaver WardJill Britcher, Borough Councillor for Beaver Ward has announced her resignation.

Following surgery earlier this year Jill and her husband have decided that they should move to a smaller house and garden they can manage better. They are moving out of Ashford to be near family.

Jill does not believe it is right for a councillor to live out of borough and so not be in touch with local issues and worries.

The returning officer for Ashford has announced the election for a new councillor, if contested, for Thursday 4th August. Nominations for candidates are open until 4 pm on Friday 8th July www.ashford.gov.uk/current-by-elections ➚