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Acocks Green protesters fear historic district will split

Another backlash over proposals by Local Government Boundary Commission to redraw Birmingham's political map with new council wards

Protest over Boundary Commission plans for the new Acocks Green council ward

Residents and councillors have staged a protest over plans to split the centre of a historic Birmingham district into different council wards.

Parts of the centre of Acocks Green, including the police station, the baptist church and a row of Edwardian shops, will be in the new Yardley West council ward under proposals from the Local Government Boundary Commission.

The commission unveiled a new political map of Birmingham three weeks ago which has sparked anger from residents of places like Moseley, Longbridge and Hall Green after they found their communities divided.

Now, Acocks Green has joined the chorus of anger and is calling on their community to be reunited when the commission reviews its proposals next year.

Campaigners said, while the vibrant shopping centre and village green would remain in Acocks Green ward, the new boundary would place the older part of the village in neighbouring Yardley East - meaning community issues would need to be dealt with by different councillors and officers.

Julia Larden, of Acocks Green Focus Group, said: "It is clear that these faceless bureaucrats in London have no understanding of how Birmingham works.

"We are a community of urban villages. To break up our village and to make it harder for us to work together to protect it is insensitive and stupid beyond belief."

Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum chairman David Treadwell added: "These actions are most arbitrary, which are only in the interests of the administrators."

The area's three councillors, Roger Harmer, John O'Shea and Stewart Stacey, issued a joint statement pointing out that "sensible" proposals for a new boundary were submitted. "Unfortunately, the Boundary Commission has ignored these and come up with a proposal that excludes 4,000 voters who identify strongly with our village," they added.

The redrawing of Birmingham City Council ward boundaries followed last year's Kerslake report which called for small wards to allow councillors to be closer to the communities they serve.

The 40 giant, three-member wards which currently exist will be replaced with 77 smaller wards – 53 of them will have one councillor each and the remaining 24 larger areas, two each. It means there will be 101 councillors, 19 fewer than at present, when the new boundaries are introduced in 2018.

The Boundary Commission is consulting over its draft plans until February 8.

Dozens of new wards and districts have been created on the back of draft plans by the Local Government Boundary Commission to cut 19 councillors from the chamber.

Communities such as Alum Rock, Birchfield, Garrett's Green, Glebe Farm and Tile Cross, Monyhull, Newtown, Saltley and Boldmere will also get their own council wards and councillors.

Other significant anomalies include Moseley village no longer being in Moseley, and Hall Green Stadium in neither Hall Green North nor Hall Green South ward.

Moseley and Kings Heath Labour councillor Lisa Trickett called the changes "vandalism" and called on the Local Government Boundary Commission to think again.

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