Articles

Birmingham wards part 2

In News on February 8, 2016 by dadge

The consultation on the new wards for Birmingham ends today. My submission is as follows:

1. Having small and single-member wards is unsatisfactory because it makes the council less democratic and less accountable. Apart from a minority of marginal wards, under the proposed system there will be a tendency for a particular ward to elect a councillor from the same party for an extended period of time, perhaps decades, even though a substantial number of people in the district may support other parties. Also, there is inherently a lack of fairness in a system where there is a mixture of ward sizes, since the nature of representation varies across the city. Either the current system of 3-member wards and rolling elections should be retained, or the council should adopt a system of proportional representation.

2. Some comments about naming of wards.

a. Generally, the commission should avoid giving a ward the name of a district if the ward only contains part of that district.

Handsworth is a large part of north-west Birmingham. A more suitable name for your proposed “Handsworth” ward would be “Handsworth Park”.

Your “Birchfield” and “Aston” wards both use main roads as boundaries, splitting off part of the district into the neighbouring ward. (Part of Birchfield is in your Aston ward, and part of Aston is in your Nechells ward.) Therefore, more suitable names would be “West Birchfield” and “Aston Hall”.

Your proposed “Moseley” ward should be named “East Moseley”, or, more sensibly, the southern part of your “Balsall Heath and Cannon Hill” ward should be combined with it to make a Moseley ward that better fits the name.

Your proposed “Balsall Heath and Cannon Hill” ward only includes the west of Balsall Heath. Therefore it should be called “West Balsall Heath and Cannon Hill”, or “West Balsall Heath” if the southern part is transferred to Moseley. But it would be better if the rest of Balsall Heath was transferred from your “Sparkbrook” ward to make a Balsall Heath ward.

Heartlands is a designation for a large part of east central Birmingham. You might consider naming your “Heartlands” ward “Little Bromwich” instead.

b. Generally, the commission should avoid giving a ward the name of a district if the ward also contains (parts of) other districts.

Winson Green is only a part of the area included in your “Winson Green” ward. It would be better if Winson Green was a single-member ward, with the Jewellery Quarter and the parts of Handsworth (north of the railway) in other wards. See my previous submission.

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