On Thursday councillors will debate changes to the ward boundaries for local elections. The purpose of the boundary review is to make local elections more balanced by ensuring that all councillors represent a similar number of voters across the borough, and to reduce the number of councillors from 36 to 30, in line with recommendations set out by the Boundary Commission. The council undertook a public consultation on the proposed new wards earlier this year, with displays in the Peacock Centre and Mercia Walk. A total of 195 responses were received, the bulk of which were supportive of the changes.
During the consultation representations were received from Pyrford residents about the boundaries for the new Heath ward, which would have included Pyrford village, Mount Hermon East and parts of Maybury and Sheerwater. Residents were concerned that the new ward would split the historic community of Pyrford across two different seats. At a public meeting about the boundary review last month, some residents also expressed opposition to Pyrford being included in the same ward as Sheerwater – considered to be a very different community in terms of character and needs.
In response to these objections, a number of alternatives were considered which sought to ensure that Pyrford remained within one ward. The new ward will now contain the entire area within the current Pyrford division as well as the Maybury estate, but will exclude Sheerwater and Mount Hermon East. Mount Hermon East will instead merge with the bulk of what is currently Mount Hermon West to create a single Mount Hermon ward. The new seat will run from the Old Woking Road in the east, along White Rose Lane in the south and the railway line in the north, and will extend all the way along York Road and Mount Hermon Road.
I am glad that the new boundaries will retain Mount Hermon as a distinct community within Woking, as this would have been lost under the earlier proposals. The new wards will ensure we have the right number of councillors in the borough to represent residents’ interests. I look forward to supporting the changes when they are debated later this week.