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Petition calls for Birmingham council boundary changes plan to be binned

Growing discontent over ward proposals that strike at heart of old communities

Moseley Village

Opposition to controversial Birmingham council boundary changes which could cut historic communities in half and wipe others from the map altogether is growing, with a petition being raised by angry residents.

Draft plans for 77 new council wards which will take Moseley Village out of Moseley, split Acocks Green, Erdington and Hall Green in two and cut Longbridge out completely have caused widespread outrage in local communities.

Campaigners behind the protest said they believed the scheme was drawn up by bureaucrats in London who paid little attention to community identity in the city.

And they argued that breaking the strong link between councillors and established communities would reduce the quality of political leadership in the city.

The draft plans were published by the Local Government Boundary Commission last month and a series of communities have raised objections and called for them to be redrawn.

But now Birmingham resident Daz Wright has launched a city wide petition on the Change.org website and hopes to get the draft proposals binned and have the Boundary Commission start again.

He said: “Local knowledge has been largely disregarded in modelling future wards.”

Crucially, he argued that too much effort was made to create wards of equal size, rather than reflect local communities.

He said: “Whilst we appreciate that wards balanced by population size are important, as is the total number of councillors, we do not think these should be the primary considerations.

“Community identity is a crucial element of creating municipal governance in which people will actively participate.”

Resident Colin Green, of Quinton, who signed the petition, said: “More weight seems to have been placed on physical boundaries rather than natural communities.”

A public meeting will now be held to protest against the Boundary Commission draft recommendations which would place Moseley village, Moseley Park, St Mary’s Church and a number of leafy roads under the newly created Balsall Heath and Cannon Hill Ward.

There was widespread anger when the news was announced in November with the Moseley Forum claiming the changes would “rip the heart” out of the area and “cut off” its limbs.

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

The meeting, which will be attended by political parties, representatives of businesses, local groups and residents, will be held in the main hall at Queensbridge School, Moseley, from 10.30am to 12pm, on January 16.

David Isgrove, vice chairman of Moseley Forum

David Isgrove, vice chairman of Moseley Forum said: “There’s disbelief that the Boundary Commission would do this.

“There is shock and people are incensed because we’ve been through this before.

“From 1979 to 2001, when we were split, we found it so difficult to get Moseley treated as a whole, there’s a feeling of ‘oh no, not again.’”

Mr Isgrove said the support the forum had received from the public had been tremendous.

He added: “It’s all been unanimous in saying ‘no’ to the Boundary Commission proposals because they are ignoring the second point of the criteria which says wards should reflect the interests and identities of the communities.”

Mr Isgrove said a vote would be taken at the meeting which he hoped “will prove to the Boundary Commission that we are a single community that does not want to be split.”

Protesters are also invited to send their concerns to the Boundary Commission by February 8 .

Draft plans have been drawn up for 77 new Birmingham City Council wards to be introduced at the 2018 local election.

The Local Government Boundary Commission was asked to review the number of councillors and ward boundaries in Birmingham following last year’s Kerslake review of the city council.

It first decided to cut the number of councillors by 19 down to 101. These were assigned between 77 one and two member wards.

If the Government agrees the new wards they will be implemented in time for the 2018 local elections.

Commission chairman Max Caller has called on residents to make their views known and suggest improvements.

He said: “We will consider all the submissions we receive, whoever they are from, and whether your evidence applies to the whole city or just part of it.”

The Boundary Commission plans

Moseley is Moseley – only it isn’t

Moseley Village will not be in Moseley ward. The farmers market, artisan shops and pubs would be in Balsall Heath.

Welcome to Erdington. Well, not really...

If you get off a train at Erdington to visit its historic Abbey, you’d be in Stockland Green.

The Jewellery Quarter has moved

The Jewellery Quarter is to become part of Winson Green. The Boundary Commission says it is keen to hear alternative names for this one.

Perry Common is wards apart

Residents travelling from one end of the new Perry Common ward to the other need to use streets passing through three or four other wards because a school playing field splits the new ward cleanly in two.

There’s Hall Green and Hall Green – but Hall Green isn’t in either

Despite having new Hall Green North and Hall Green South wards, you will find neither Hall Green Station nor Hall Green School in either of them.

Fake places survive cull

A few years ago, the council made up some ward names to cover diverse communities. Residents of east Great Barr and west Kingstanding were combined under Oscott and the Druids Heath and South Kings Heath area was similarly named Brandwood. These artificial titles, which no-one apart from council observes, are retained.

Acocks Green – the great takeaway

Acocks Green’s Old Fire Station, police station and Yardley Road shopping parade would be in Yardley West ward.

Welcome to the new Tyseley...

The new Tyseley ward, while sucking up much of Hall Green, seems set to be nowhere near the real Tyseley. That’ll be because the real Tyseley will be in Yardley West.

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