Somerset County Council
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Electoral Division Consultation April 2018

 

Public consultation - Proposals for changes to County Electoral Division names

Views are invited about proposals that have been made by the Council to change the name of 4 County Council electoral divisions. Each county councillor represents a local geographical area or electoral division. At the county council elections held every four years (the next is in 2021) only voters who reside within the division are permitted to vote in the election for their preferred local candidate. Each division has an average electorate of around 7000 electors.

Each electoral division has a name which should reflect the area covered by the division. The name should help each elector to understand in which electoral division they live and then at election time which local candidates they can vote for.   

Electoral division names are normally decided by the Local Government Boundary Commission at the time of boundary reviews which happen every 10 years or so for county councils. However, there is also the opportunity for councils to change the name of an electoral division between boundary reviews if the Council considers that the name does not adequately describe the area of the division.  

The Council is currently consulting on possible changes to four Somerset electoral division names, as follows. 

Current name - Blackdown and Neroche Electoral Division
Proposed name - Neroche and Wellington East Electoral Division

Current name - Castle Cary Electoral Division
Proposed name - Cary Electoral Division

Current name - Watchet and Stogursey Electoral Division
Proposed name - Quantock Coast Electoral Division

Current name - Wellington Electoral Division
Proposed name - Wellington and Rockwell Green Electoral Division

The case for change for all four electoral divisions is set out below with links to a map of each of the divisions.

The Council would welcome comments from individuals or organisations on the proposed changes. The consultation period runs from Monday 12 March 2018 to Friday 25 May 2018 and all comments should be sent to Carol James, Democratic Services Officer at cdjames@somerset.gov.uk

Proposal: ‘Blackdown and Neroche Election Division’ to be renamed ‘Neroche and Wellington East’ Electoral Division

Map

The description for the rural part of the division is considered to accurately reflect where the residents live but this is not the case for the urban Wellington part of the division.

Many residents in the part of Wellington that falls within the division are unaware they are in the 'Blackdown and Neroche' division and share the division with residents in Hatch Beauchamp. There is also a general lack of awareness in the locality that Wellington has two councillors representing residents of the town.

All of the major political parties included a reference to Wellington in the titles of their election literature, such as 'Blackdown and Neroche incl Wellington East'. Without the 'Wellington' reference, there is a risk that some of the Wellington electorate are not able to make an informed choice of election candidate in the polling station because they have dismissed election leaflets from candidates which they thought were not relevant to them.

Including 'Wellington' in the title reflects the inclusion of part of the division's major centre of population, unlike the existing title which suggests only a sparsely populated rural area stopping short of Wellington.

Proposal: Castle Cary Election Division to be renamed Cary Electoral Division  

Map

When the total number of Somerset County Councillors were reduced from 58 to 55 in 2012 a significant number of communities were added to the Castle Cary Division in the southern part of the Division; namely Mudford, Chilton Cantelo, Ashington, Limington, Yeovilton and Podimore. All these villages and hamlets border, or are closer to Yeovil and indeed are part of the Yeovil Parliamentary Constituency, than Castle Cary which is in the Somerton and Frome Parliamentary Constituency. Mudford is some 10 miles from Castle Cary.

There is evidence that Electors in Podimore and Yeovilton struggle to understand that their polling station is in Ilchester Town Hall (in the Martock Division) and not in Castle Cary. 

The change to the name of “Cary” reflects the route of the river Cary which runs through Castle Cary, the villages within Carymoor parishes and Babcary, which is close to Podimore. It will also help those electors, primarily south of the A303, who do not readily identify themselves with Castle Cary.

Proposal: Watchet and Stogursey Election Division to be renamed Quantock Coast Electoral Division

Map

The area covered by the ‘Watchet and Stogursey Electoral Division’ encompasses a number of settlements of mixed size including Sampford Brett, Williton, the sea-port town of Watchet, West and East Quantoxhead, Kilve, Holford, and ending at the eastern boundary at Stogursey. However, the current title only refers to two of these settlements and they mark the western and eastern boundaries of the division. There is no direct reflection of the size of the settlements in the name of the division – given that Williton is excluded from the title.

The suggested name change to ‘Quantock Coast Electoral Division’ is recommended as a more appropriate title. The two words ‘Quantock’ and ‘Coast’ combine to provide a title that covers all of the Parishes and the towns in the Division and gives a more generic description of the area which spans both the hills and the coastal area. This is considered preferable to naming specific settlements within the title of the Division which is a more divisive approach unless all are named which is not a practical approach.

Proposal:  Wellington Electoral Division to be renamed Wellington and Rockwell Green Electoral Division 

Map

The proposed change of name to ‘Wellington and Rockwell Green Electoral Division’ from ‘Wellington’ is intended to better reflect the make-up of the division and gives the village of Rockwell Green an appropriate status. Over the last 20 years the village of Rockwell Green has grown significantly in size with a number of new estates transforming the village in terms of size and socio-economic make up. There are now over 2000 electors in Rockwell Green which is a significant proportion of the overall electorate present in the division and this status should be reflected in the name of the division. By including the village in the title of the division would reassure local residents that they are considered in decision-making. There is considerable local pride in the Rockwell Green community and being a 'Greener' is something that many locals would be proud to declare that is what they are. This change would increase the visibility of the community and ensure that it is put on an equal footing with the rest of the town. 

Julian Gale
Strategic Manager – Partnerships and Governance
6 March 2018

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