This proposal has been approved, despite opposition from Seaton Town Council and the West Seaton and Seaton Hole Association representing residents in the area which will become part of Beer & Branscombe ward from the 2019 EDDC elections.
The Boundary Commission for England argued that Seaton will have too many electors, and therefore to equalise the voters:councillors ratio, some part of the town needed to be hived off from the existing 3-member ward. Since no one put forward an alternative carve-up, the Commission stuck to its original plan.
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.’
A controversial application to build two houses in the rear garden of the Lyme Bay View Residential Home, Old Beer Road (seen in the picture from the SW Coastal Path to Beer) has been withdrawn. This follows the withdrawal of a similar proposal to build three houses in the garden of Pembroke House, Beer Road, earlier in the year.
These proposals both involved overdevelopment of the sites and affected views of the coast and White Cliff (both adjoin the open field at the top of Beer Road which affords the best views on the west side of Seaton). Neither was environmentally sustainable, as distances from the town centre meant that occupants would inevitably rely on their cars.
Both also had access problems – the threat from coastal erosion to Old Beer Road at the Lyme Bay View entrance, and the ‘dangerous’ bend at the entrance to Pembroke House (as a previous EDDC decision described it).
Despite these withdrawals, West Seaton residents remain concerned at the pressure for inappropriate new development, also seen in the application for a block of flats at Pendeen, Castle Hill, which has been submitted in a revised form (the first application was rejected by EDDC after widespread opposition). The two ‘garden-grabbing’ applications could also return.