‘An awful idea’: Maryland ward proposal rejected by Newham Council
PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 February 2020
The council has objected to plans for a new ward recommended as part of a boundary review.
The Local Government Boundary Commission published proposals in October for 24 council wards and 66 councillors following a public consultation in the first statutory review of Newham's electoral arrangements since 1998.
The council accepted the Commission's wider plan for redrawing wards at a meeting on Tuesday, February 18, but rejected a proposal to create a ward covering Maryland.
Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: "While the council recognises Maryland is an identifiable part of the borough, the committee's view is that the Maryland neighbourhood exists but is not significant compared to Stratford and Forest Gate."
Ms Fiaz went on to describe the proposed new ward's size as feeling like "mission creep".
Cllr Rohit Dasgupta added: "Maryland ward is an awful idea which doesn't really work."
The Commission's proposal for the north west of the borough is for six wards, including Maryland - splitting Stratford & New Town. However, the council wants five.
A council report notes Newham's proposal represents a more even spread of voters.
To ensure fairness in elections, the number of voters in Newham gets divided by the number of councillors, resulting in voter populations per ward which are more or less the same.
A Maryland ward with three councillors crossing a "natural boundary" between existing neighbourhoods lacks "a clear rationale", the report says.
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Neighbours in Angel Lane opposite the Stratford Centre would no longer be represented by councillors who deal with issues of anti-social behaviour, homelessness, traffic and jobs linked to the area.
The report includes concerns community cohesion would be undermined by imposing an "artificial divide" between Stratford and East Village.
Naming the ward Maryland was also challenged because it recalls a US state which was once a former slave society.
Possible links between the slave trade and the historic Burges family also needed investigating before Newham accepted Boundary Commission proposals to name Wall End after the former landowners.
Cllr Anthony McAlmont said: "I'm the only descendant of slaves on this committee. Burges and Maryland does not go down well with me."
However, councillors supported Commission proposals to change the boundary between Manor Park and East Ham North wards.
Under the Boundary Commission plan, an area from Monega Road to Lincoln Road would no longer be part of Manor Park ward while First Avenue and Second Avenue becoming part of Little Ilford ward.
East Ham MP Stephen Timms objected to the Commission proposal in a letter to its chief executive, Jolyon Jackson.
Mr Timms wrote: "The proposed changes would significantly unsettle well established local identities."
But Newham wants to stick to the Commission's plan because the result of not redrawing Manor Park's boundaries would lead to an "unacceptable" variation in voter numbers.
Boundaries are due to be redrawn next year.
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