Upper Dales councillor submits alternative boundary shake-up proposal

John Blackie, pictured with children from Gayle and Hawes at the opening of a new play cabin.

Hawes councillor John Blackie has submitted alternative plans for a shake up of the district council ward boundaries in the Dales.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is reviewing the district ward boundaries to ensure all wards have roughly the same number of people in.

The exercise will also reduce the number of Richmondshire councillors from 34 to 24.

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The district council’s proposed submission is for 24 single councillor wards, as opposed to some wards having two councillors as is the situation now.

In the Upper Dales the council proposes the following new wards:

  • Swaledale & Arkengarthdale – Arkengarthdale – Grinton & Ellerton Abbey – Marrick – Marske – Melbecks – Muker – New Forest – Reeth, Fremington & Healaugh
  • Hawes and Bainbridge – Hawes – Bainbridge – High Abbotside
  • Yoredale – Aysgarth – Askrigg – Bishopdale – Burton-cum-Walden – Carperby-cum-Thoresby – Castle Bolton with East and West Bolton – Low Abbotside – Newbiggin – Redmire – Thoralby – Thornton Rust

But Cllr Blackie believes Muker, Gunnerside and Low Row should be included in a Hawes, High Abbotside and Upper Swaledale ward, and Bainbridge included in the Yoredale ward.

Other changes suggested by Cllr Blackie would see Downholme and Hundswell included in the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale wards, rather that in Richmond West.

He also says Preston and Wensley should be included in a Bolton Castle ward rather than as part of one of two Leyburn wards.

He said in his submission that the various councillors who had been elected to serve the current five or six wards covering the Upper Dales wards had been able to speak solely on key issues and concerns affecting these “deeply rural parishes”.

He added: “My submission is aimed at maintaining this ability to speak exclusively on upper Dales matters so three of the wards I propose consist entirely of upper Dales parishes in the existing county council division and the fourth ward has a mixture (as it does now) of upper and middle Dales parishes.

“However those middle Dales parishes share many of the interests, identities and issues of their counterparts in the upper Dales, and like them they are deeply rural in nature.

“Most importantly their residents share the attributes so characteristic of the Upper Dales in that they are fiercely self-reliant and staunchly independent with a set of very similar values and ambitions.”

Cllr Blackie said his submission avoided the residents of the “deeply rural communities being the junior makeweight of numbers in an urban-centric ward, where the councillor elected to serve will naturally speak up for the sector of his or her ward that provides the greatest number of electors”.

You can read Cllr Blackie’s full submission here.

The Richmondshire District Council boundary proposal will be discussed at a council meeting tonight.

For more details click here.