The Boundary Commission for England has made proposals which would take part of Seaton ‘around Beer Road’ – which the map shows means the area to the west of Castle Hill/Marlpit Lane and to the south of Bunts Lane – out of the Seaton district council ward and puts it into Beer and Branscombe ward.
Because the area would then be in a different district ward from the rest of Seaton, it would be also be a separate ward for town council election purposes, with one councillor (the rest of Seaton would be another ward, with 11).
The Commission justifies this on grounds of ‘electoral equality‘, i.e. ensuring that each ward has roughly the same number of voters per councillor. However while this change would leave Seaton ward with just 1% over the recommended number of voters, it would leave the expanded Beer and Branscombe ward 5% over.
It seems that Beer and Branscombe parish councils are behind the drive to expand their ward. Alternatives to ‘include either Salcombe Regis from Sidmouth parish or the parish of Southleigh’ were rejected because they ‘would not meet our statutory criteria of community identity.’ Bizarrely, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Commission that West Seaton citizens might have feelings about having their Seaton identity taken away!
This is now out for consultation until 3rd April and will be considered by Seaton Town Council. By coincidence, the AGM of the West Seaton & Seaton Hole Association takes place on Thursday 16th February (at the Marshlands Centre, Harbour Road, starting at 7 pm). We will add this to the agenda.
Here is what the Commission says in full:
‘Beer & Branscombe, Coly Valley and Seaton 35 We received a number of different suggestions for this area. One of the two district-wide warding patterns we received proposed that the parish of Southleigh be added to the existing Beer & Branscombe ward to improve electoral equality. The other district submission suggested that a part of Seaton parish be included in Beer & Branscombe ward but did not specify a proposed boundary.
36 We received submissions from both Beer Parish Council and Branscombe Parish Council that accepted that the current ward of Beer & Branscombe needed to be extended to provide for better electoral equality. It was suggested that either an area around Seaton Hole or Salcombe Regis be added to the current ward. We visited the area and considered all proposals. We concluded that to include either Salcombe Regis from Sidmouth parish or the parish of Southleigh would not meet our statutory criteria of community identity. A ward coterminous with Seaton parish would not provide for acceptable electoral equality. Therefore, we have included an area of Seaton parish around Beer Road in our Beer & Branscombe ward. This provides for good electoral equality for both our proposed Beer & Branscombe and Seaton wards. Coly Valley ward remains unchanged, which was supported by a submission from one of the parish councils in this ward.’