Councillors divided over shake-up of boundaries
The political map of North West Leicestershire could be redrawn in an electoral review of ward boundaries.
Leaders of the Conservative-led district council have asked the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to look into altering the geography, and possibly number, of the local authority's electoral divisions.
The council has 38 councillors representing 20 wards, which was cut from 22 after the last review in 2002.
Some wards, such as Moira, Thringstone and Hugglescote, have two councillors. Others, including Measham, Ibstock and Greenhill, have three.
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The aim of the exercise, initiated before the Conservative party majority fell from 27 to 21 in last year's local elections, is to ensure that each councillor represents about the same number of electors.
Council leader Richard Blunt said: "This process is effectively about ensuring there is equality for all voters.
"The Boundary Commission has made it clear that the review of the North West Leicestershire district would have happened in the near future whether or not the request had been made to them.
"The review of this district would have been triggered because of the number of wards which have grown or changed since the last review.
"The process has now started, it is independent of the council and there will be plenty of opportunities for residents to make their views known to the Commission."
Danny Edwards, the Commission's review manager, spoke at a recent meeting of the council to outline the process. It could result in changes to the number of councillors, number of wards, their names and boundaries.
Members, however, are split over the wisdom of the review.
Michael Wyatt, Lib Dem member for Greenhill, said: "I welcome the review.
"I believe the number of councillors should be reduced to 34, each representing a single ward.
"That may mean splitting some of them but that could have its benefits, too.
"It will make it much easier for electors to vote for the person they want in each area and also more straightforward for councillors."
Thringstone Councillor Leon Spence, leader of the council's Labour group of councillors, disagrees.
He said: "The process should be stopped. I believe that where there are two or more members in wards, this is because those members represent larger, easily identifiable communities.
"We should never simply split a community because it is more expedient or fits an unneeded 'model'.
"This exercise to redraw boundary lines is superfluous and a colossal waste of money, with various Boundary Commission sources placing a cost to the taxpayer for this exercise in a range between £100,000 and £200,000."
A spokesman for the Local Government Boundary Commission for England said the council needed to suggest the number of councillors it wanted before the first of three public consultations begins in January.
He said the Commission's recommendations would be implemented by Parliament and in place by February 2014, in time for the next district elections.