Electoral Review of Devon – my comments on draft recommendations

At noon today, the public consultation on the draft recommendations on the new electoral arrangements for Devon County Council made by Local Government Boundary Commission for England [LGBCE] closed.

Here are the comments I made

Dear Sir or Madam

I write with the following comments on the on the draft recommendations on the new electoral arrangements for Devon County Council published on12 May 2015.

For the past 4 years I have represented the residents of Cowick as their ward councillor on Exeter City Council, and as such have a feeling and a knowledge for local identity of communities West of the Exe.

My first comment is that the almost concurrent (although lagging slightly) electoral review of Exeter is causing confusion.

I – but more importantly, the general public – would have thought that the building blocks for divisions of upper-tier authorities would be the ward boundaries of lower-tier councils and the review of Exeter’s boundaries should have taken place before the Devon electoral review.

The confusion will be exacerbated by the fact that Devon’s divisions within the city will no longer be co-terminous with Exeter’s wards.

As ever, a stumbling block for much of public understanding of proposed changes are the proposed names.

During my 4 years of representing Cowick, most of my residents have never recognised that name and believe they live in St THOMAS or more specifically, HIGHER St THOMAS.

Your proposals split the current ward/division of St Thomas as split it between the recommended new divisions. This will cause confusion, consternation and anger to those that are NOT in the new division that contains the name St Thomas.

For that reason, I would like to suggest that ALPHINGTON/St THOMAS is renamed ALPHINGTON/COWICK.

The rationale is that Cowick Hill, Cowick Lane, Cowick Road and one side of Cowick Street all lie within this new division.

And with this rationale, I would be happy with EXWICK/REDHILLS. However, I would say that others might take exception to this idea and make a case for this to be renamed EXWICK/St THOMAS. I would be happy with either.

My next comments relates to a boundary line and these are made with detailed knowledge of the roads and the local topography of the area in question.

LGBCE map showing proposed boundaries around Nadder Park Road
LGBCE map showing proposed boundaries around Nadder Park Road

Nadder Park Road and Wheatley Close
Looking at the street map on the LGBCE consultation page, there seems to be a close affinity between these 2 streets and the nearby Branscombe Close and High Meadows.

However, the actual layout on the ground means there is NO affinity between the 2 groups.

There is no direct route from one to the other. To get from Nadder Park Road to Branscombe, the journey involves traveling along Barley Lane, Barley Farm Road, Charley Avenue and High Meadows.

In addition, the stretch of Barley Lane from Redhills to the junction with Nadder Park Road is a narrow country lane – the 2 main approaches to Nadder Park Road are via either Barley Lane from Dunsford Road or Barley Farm Road.

For these reasons, I would propose moving Nadder Park Road and Wheatley Close from your proposed Redhills/Exwick division to the new Alphington/St Thomas one.

I am aware that the 2 reviews are being conducted independently, but it is worth noting that this boundary line  is reflected in the new St Thomas ward in the draft recommendations on the new electoral arrangements for Exeter City Council.


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