Thursday, 23 March 2017

Details on the boundary commission, the representations made and next steps

This is from the independent boundary commission:
"Last year, the Boundary Commission for England published and consulted on our initial proposals for new constituency boundaries. We received nearly 20,000 responses to that consultation. The next stage of the 2018 Review is for us to publish all those representations so that others may comment on them. I write to you today to inform you that we will be publishing all the representations at midnight tonight. We will be inviting comments on them for the statutory four-week period, until Monday 27 March 2017. All representations will be published on our website at www.bce2018.org.uk, where you will be able to search by a number of different options, such as name, reference number, existing constituency or type of respondent, as well as using the interactive mapping system to locate comments geographically. The Commission would like to encourage you take time to see what others have said about our initial proposals, and add your views to those. We would also ask you to assist us by publicising this consultation as widely as possible in your constituency and further afield. Following the secondary consultation, the Commission will be considering all representations received from both consultations, and will consider whether any revisions are needed. If we decide to revise the proposals, we will consult on the revised boundaries. We currently expect any such consultation to happen towards the end of 2017, or in early 2018."
If a constituent wishes to add any further comments then my advice is to do the following:
● Online: Visit the website
and fill in the online form
● In writing: Send representations to:
Boundary Commission for England,
Importantly, the Conservative party counter-proposal did not require the creation of any ‘orphan’ wards to be attached to a Newcastle constituency, and kept the four wards which make up the town of Ponteland, wholly within their current Hexham constituency. It had a much better fit for the Hexham constituency, and preserves Ponteland, whose proposed split has upset many - see below and the representations made. 

This counter proposal solves fundamental inconveniences which would have resulted from the Commission's initial proposed changes, namely:

1. Ponteland East, Stannington, and Whalton are primarily rural areas. Whalton, Ogle, and Belsay do not connect to any of the Newcastle boundary lines; and if the Ponteland East & Stannington ward has been removed from the Hexham constituency as initial proposed, these areas would be represented by a primarily urban, Newcastle based MP.
2. Important local ties would have been broken by the proposed changes. For example, the town of Ponteland would literally be split; meaning the High School, Middle School, Leisure Centre, Golf Club and some of the town centre would be represented by a different MP to the MP representing most of the residents. The dividing line would also mean a Northumberland MP represented one half of Eastern Way and a Newcastle MP the other side.
This  counter proposal is supported by Eileen Armstrong, the County Councillor for Ponteland East and Stannington, all other Ponteland County Councillors, and myself. 

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