Council Ward Boundary Change Proposals


Originally written for Bromsgrove Standard, Jan 2016

Here’s a test for you. Is Rubery in Birmingham or in Bromsgrove? And if Rednal is in Birmingham, what about Rubery-Rednal? And are Rubery and Rednal in Longbridge or is Longbridge in Rubery and Rednal? Or are they all next to each other? Confused? You should be. It all sounds a bit like one of those riddles you used to get at school, doesn’t it?

Actually, though, these are the kinds of questions on which people are being asked to give their views in relation to the local names of the areas which Birmingham City Councillors could be representing in a couple of years’ time.

The Boundary Commission for England is a national body which has been conducting a review of wards in Birmingham. Wards are the areas which councillors are elected to represent. At the moment there are 120 Councillors representing 40 wards in Birmingham. The wards are all large – on average 18,000 people. Each one has three Councillors elected to represent people there. Under the Boundary Commission proposals, the overall number of councillors would be reduced from 120 to 101. The size of wards would also be dramatically reduced, with one or two councillors representing each of them rather than three.

Most of the corner of Birmingham which the Bromsgrove Standard is delivered is covered by the current, large Longbridge Ward. Under the Commissions plans, the Standard’s delivery area will be split between single councillor wards called “West Heath”, “Rednal & Rubery”, “Frankley” and “Northfield West.” The name Longbridge disappears entirely. You can see and comment on the plans here:

There are different views on whether or not it is a good idea to move to single Councillor wards and even more so about cutting the number of Councillors to represent local people. If the changes do go ahead, though, it is important that people can relate to the names of them. So, along with the local Labour Party, I am suggesting the area covered by the new Longbridge Town Centre is called “Longbridge and Rubery Rednal” rather than simply “Rednal & Rubery.”

Among the other name changes Labour is calling for are, applying the name “West Heath” to the entire area which people think of as West Heath, and recognising the ward covering the centre of Northfield should simply be called “Northfield” rather than “Northfield West.”

What do you think? Let me and the Commission know your views. But hurry. The closing date is February 8th.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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