Parish council adds its objections to plans to merge rural Darlington council wards

The Advertiser Series: The proposed electoral map of Darlington, showing the combined Sadberge and Middleton St George ward The proposed electoral map of Darlington, showing the combined Sadberge and Middleton St George ward

MEMBERS of a parish council have described plans to merge two of Darlington’s rural electoral wards into one as "ludicrous".

Middleton St George Parish Council joined a chorus of voices against proposals to create a giant rural ward to represent Middleton St George and Sadberge at Darlington Borough Council.

The proposal to create the single ward came from the independent Boundary Commission as one of several changes suggested to the electoral map of Darlington as part of plans to reduce the number of councillors representing the town from 53 to 50.

The draft plan suggests the creation of a giant rural ward reaching from Bishopton in the north to the existing border with Hurworth in the south.

The proposed ward would have three councillors, similar to the existing arrangement where Sadberge has one ward councillor – Brian Jones – while Middleton St George is represented by Doris Jones and Steve York.

Councillor Doris Jones, who is chairman of the parish council as well as ward councillor for Middleton St George, said: “Does anyone see any sense in what’s been proposed? I’ve never heard anything so ludicrous in all my life and I can’t see, quite frankly, how it could work.

“What if three councillors are elected in the future who are all of different political parties or focused on different parts of the ward – it would mean all decisions made in the villages become political footballs.

“If the Boundary Commission had said, these are the reasons why these changes would benefit you, then fine. As it is, they’ve given no reasons – it’s just someone sat in an office with a map drawing lines.”

Sadberge Parish Council agreed last week to object to the proposals.

Representatives of the parishes of Brafferton and Bishopton, within the current Sadberge and Whessoe parish, have indicated that they will also object.

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