Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Goodbye Aberteifi Rhyd-Y-Fuwch Ward?

Yesterday, Ceredigion County Council received the Boundary Commission's draft report on the future of the county's electoral divisions. The intention behind the report (and those occurring all over Wales at present) is to equalize as close as possible the ratio of electors to Councillors (similar to the task being supported nationally by the Coalition Government). Making each vote as close to being as equal to each other is the intention.

Having witnessed what appeared to be the decimation in number of Councillors on Denbeighshire County Council after they failed to give their own internal recommendations to the Boundary Commission, Ceredigion County Council decided to 'get its retaliation in first' as Anglesey County Council did and give its own recommendations to the Commission.


So, the draft arrived in County Hall yesterday and it has recommended a cut in Ceredigion Councillors from 42 down to 37. The average ratio of electors to Councillors will be 1,608 - closer to the 1,750 target than it is at present.

The draft proposals seem to run on the recommendations that the County Council sent to the Commission (yes, we've done their work for them!). They involve a musical chairs of polling districts to fit into the ratio that has been dictated to us. The whole situation really is rather unsatisfactory in that we can not take into account local need or rurality, but the County Council had to play with the hand we were dealt, and the Commission agreed with that hand.

Cardigan's Loss?

One of the recommendations is to merge Cardigan's 3 County Council wards into one multi-member ward, to be represented by 2 members. Cardigan had been served in this way up until 2004 when one multi-member ward of the whole town was served by 3 Councillors. In 2004, the set-up changed and Cardigan was split into 3 single member ward - Mwldan, Rhyd-Y-Fuwch & Teifi. But this new change, if agreed and to come into force ready for 2012, would see a loss of one Councillor for Cardigan as a whole.

It was in 2004 when I entered the equation as a wide-eyed and enthusiastic 21 year old. With good links to Cardigan, I decided to put my name forward for the newly established Rhyd-Y-Fuwch Ward. I didn't expect to win but knocked on every door all the same to at least give the residents in the ward the alternative to the stereotypical 'man in a grey suite'. Indeed, I can remember the surprise on the door-step that someone so young was standing for Council. Against all expectations, I managed to spring an 18 vote majority win - 203-185 votes.

4 years on, I was humbled when the residents of my ward re-elected me with 86% of the vote - 370-60 votes. It's a tight-knit area of town and, surely as it should be for any Councillor, I now know it like the back of my hand.

Goodbye Rhyd-Y-Fuwch Ward?

If the Boundary Commission's draft proposals are agreed in the full, the Aberteifi/Cardigan Rhyd-Y-Fuwch Ward which came into place in 2004 and which only I have ever represented at a County Council level, will be consumed into an all-Cardigan multi-member ward once more.

Cardigan Town Council has understandably written to the Commission and will no doubt do so again, objecting to the plan as the propsoals mean a loss in representation to the town.

What will happen? Only time will tell. But whilst changes are afoot around the County, my own feelings closer to home is a sense of potential loss for what has been a central part of my life for these past 6 years.

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