Skip navigation

DSC_0041

In what seems an extraordinary flourish of the bureaucrat’s pen – or an astonishing series of mouse clicks – most of Woking’s well-known place names may be swept away in proposed council ward boundary changes. If the changes likely to be recommended by Woking council are approved by the Boundary Commission, you can say goodbye – as council ward names, anyway –  to Maybury, Pyrford, West Byfleet, Sheerwater, Woodham, Westfield, Kingfield, Mayford, St John’s, Old Woking, Mount Hermon and Brookwood. They will be replaced with unfamiliar new locations like Canalside, The Heath, Woodlands, Town and Hoe Valley.

The plans mean reducing the existing number of 36 Woking councillors to 30, and 10 wards, each with three councillors. Under the present system, some wards have three councillors, some two, and some only one. Woking council’s chief executive, Ray Morgan, has said that the changes, which aim to create a matching number of electors in each ward, mean more equality of democracy, and has added that there had been “a lot of heart-searching” before the changes were put forward.

DSC_0042At a public meeting to explain the proposals, a number of residents from Pyrford in particular objected to their loss of identity as a community, and their ward being split into The Heath, and Woodlands. The latter also includes parts of Maybury, Sheerwater, West Byfleet and Woodham. In reply, Morgan referred to the need to “find ways of integrating communities differently”, and also to a recent Electoral Court ruling. In May 2012 Mohammed Bashir was elected as Liberal Democrat councillor for Maybury and Sheerwater, but was removed from his post after a trial in 2013 found him guilty of illegal and corrupt practices, including false names entered on the electoral register.  The court ruling did not attach any blame to Ray Morgan in his role as returning officer, and praised his meticulous record-keeping. At the public meeting Morgan left his audience in no doubt that part of the reason for merging Sheerwater with parts of Pyrford, West Byfleet and Woodham was to prevent another case of electoral fraud occurring in Woking. You can watch the webcast of the meeting here.

On its website the council says that “in drawing up its response to the consultation, [it] has sought to ensure that the new wards reflect community identity whilst fulfilling other criteria such as ease of movement and physical boundaries. For many residents, the changes will mean that their area is represented by more councillors and that they have the opportunity to vote more often. The new arrangements may also mean that local polling stations will change.”

Residents have until 7 March to have their say. There is a feedback form on the council website. There are also maps of the new wards displayed in Woking town centre, with feedback forms available there.  The new wards will take effect from May 2016, when all seats on the council will be up for election.

DSC_0045

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: