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Plans to cut Stone councillors slammed by town's civic leaders

By Kerry.Ashdown  |  Posted: January 04, 2014

By Kerry Ashdown

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STONE councillors have slammed plans to slash borough representatives in the wake of an expected population surge in the town.

Stafford Borough Council has proposed cutting membership across the borough by a third, from 59 to 40, and this has been approved by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE).

The number of Stone councillors on Stafford Borough Council would be cut from seven to five if more detailed proposals, recently submitted by the borough council to the LGBCE, go ahead.

But the decrease will put more strain on councillors’ workloads and fails to take into account plans for new homes for the Walton area, Stone town councillors said at their meeting on Thursday.

Councillor Rob Kenney said he was “extremely disappointed” the borough had proposed just five councillors for Stone, while Councillor Harry Brunt said almost 1,000 new homes could be built in Walton if applications for sites including Tilling Drive and land west of Longhope Drive were approved.

Stafford Borough Council has proposed cutting councillors in Stone’s Walton ward from three to two.

Councillor Jill Hood, who is one of three Walton borough councillors, said: “I know how stretched I am now – this is going to overburden councillors. We are going to find ourselves dealing with so much we won’t be able to do it.

“I propose we say it is not feasible to have two councillors for Walton.”

Walton’s ward boundary in the north would also be expanded to include Trent Road, the Willows estate off the A34 and most of Newcastle Road, which are currently part of Stonefield.

The St Michael’s ward, which currently borders Stonefield to the north east at its Pingle Lane boundary, will be expanded to include the “traditional” town centre area which is currently part of Stonefield. But the number of ward councillors will remain at two.

Stonefield’s councillors will be reduced from two to one, reflecting the contraction of its southern boundary from Pingle Lane to Longton Road – a street currently near its centre.

Councillor Joyce Farnham said: “I have served Stonefield ward for 26 years and I don’t like it being chopped in half. I feel very closely allied to Stonefield – it’s very much part of what we call ‘Old Stone’.”

Councillor June Price added: “I think it is awful that Stonefield will only be represented by one borough councillor. I really do think it deserves two councillors.”

The borough council asked the LGBCE to carry out a review of council wards and the LGBCE invited new ward arrangements to be put forward between October 22 2013 and Tuesday (January 7).

The LGBCE is due to publish a draft proposal for new warding arrangements by March 18.

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