The Bickerstaffe Record
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Spring 07 Bickerstaffe Record

South Lathom got larger, Bickerstaffe got bigger

03.11.07 | Comment?

Mid-February saw the Bickerstaffe Record delivered for the first time in Vale Lane and in Dicks Lane and parts of Wigan Road. Not surprisingly there were some questions about the relevance of a newsletter all about Bickerstaffe for people who live nowhere near Bickerstaffe, so a bit of clarification is warranted.

First, there is a need to distinguish an electoral ward from Parish. An electoral ward elects a Ward councillor to sit on West Lancashire District Council for a four year term (and Paul is the prospective Labour candidate for this election in May). A Parish has between five and eight Parish Councillors, who are also elected for a four year term, if enough candidates stand to warrant an election – if not all candidates are elected ‘unopposed’. From 2002 until 31 March 2007 there have been two Parishes in the Bickerstaffe Ward area – Simonswood and Bickerstaffe – plus an ‘unparished’ area with no Parish Councillor representation. On 01 April 2007, the area of South Lathom inclusive of Vale Lane, and parts of Dicks Lane and Wigan Road that do not lie within Westhead will be legally ‘parished’, although the first elections will not be held until 03 May (if there are enough candidates).

This is even more complex for people in Vale Lane and Wigan Roadf/Dicks Lane, because before 2002 they were in Derby electoral ward, which extends all the way to the centre of Ormskirk. For those on Wigan Road the new change means a new Parish and a new Ward; for those on Vale Lane it means a new Parish and another new Ward, because for five years they have been in Newburgh Ward. The polling station for elections for the Parish and this area of the ward will be at the cricket club on Blaguegate Lane, itself a change.

It should be stressed that the creation of the new Bickerstaffe ward boundaries is a (legislative) by-product of the wish of residents in Vale Lane, Wigan Road and Dicks Lane to become part of the new South Lathom Parish. In our view gaining Parish representation (and identity) will be more important locally than which ward residents sit in, although of course if Paul is elected in May he will welcome the opportunity to represent more households on the District Council.

The important point to make is that Bickerstaffe Ward is now a big place. From the South East tip opposite Knowsley industrial estate to the North East tip at Vale Lane closer to the middle of Newburgh than to Bickerstaffe church – it is about 6 miles as the crow flies, and a lot further by bike. The same applies between Croppers Lane in the North West to Ferny Knoll Road to the South East.

As a local Labour party, we have always been very clear (and stated it in every Bickerstaffe Record since its inception) that everyone in the ward deserves an equal voice and equal representation, and this is why we are delighted at the formation of South Lathom Parish. It also means that a ward councillor will need a great deal of energy and (and maybe a bike) to cover the whole area effectively.

We hope this makes it as clear as possible. The ecclesiastical Parish of Bickerstaffe is different again, stretching down to Altys Lane to Ormskirk, but perhaps that too much detail for now…………….please do contact Paul with questions and comments.

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