The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has published its initial proposals for new constituency boundaries. The public are invited to view and provide feedback on the proposed boundaries as part of an eight-week consultation process.
What do you need to know?
- The number of constituencies in the West Midlands will decrease from 59 to 57
- By law, every constituency must contain between 69,724 and 77,062 Parliamentary electors (as at 2 March 2020)
- The proposals impact on the existing Stafford constituency.
What is changing in the West Midlands region?
The West Midlands has been allocated 57 constituencies – a reduction of two from the current number. The BCE proposals leave nine of the 59 existing constituencies wholly unchanged, and 12 unchanged except to realign constituency boundaries with new local government ward boundaries. As it has not always been possible to allocate whole numbers of constituencies to individual counties, they have grouped some county council and unitary authority areas into sub-regions. The number of constituencies allocated to each sub-region is determined by the combined electorate of the authorities they contain. Consequently, they’ve proposed some constituencies that cross county council or unitary authority boundaries.
In Staffordshire and the Black Country, they’ve proposed one constituency that crosses the county boundary. They’ve proposed a constituency that contains electors from both Staffordshire and the Dudley metropolitan borough, which combines the town of Kingswinford, with wards from South Staffordshire district. They’ve also proposed two constituencies that include electors from both Staffordshire and the unitary authority of Stoke-on-Trent.
Initial proposals for the Staffordshire and the Black Country sub‑region
There are 25 existing constituencies in the area covered by this sub-region. Initial proposals allocate 23 constituencies to the sub-region, a reduction of two from the current figure.
Seven of the existing constituencies are within the permitted electorate range. However, the remaining 18 existing constituencies in the sub-region are below the permitted range. The reduction in the number of constituencies overall in the sub-region would therefore result in significant change to many constituencies.
The initial proposals keep two constituencies wholly unchanged (Cannock Chase and Burton). Four more constituencies (Lichfield, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent North, and Newcastle-under-Lyme) are able to remain unchanged apart from adjustments to take account of changes to local government ward boundaries.
There are twelve existing constituencies in Staffordshire. Seven existing constituencies are within the permitted electorate range. The remaining five constituencies have electorates that are below the permitted electorate range. The proposals for Staffordshire aim to limit change from the existing constituency boundaries as far as practicable.
With an electorate of 73,608, the existing Stafford constituency is within the permitted electorate range. However, the BCE maintain it would not be possible to keep the constituency wholly unchanged without dividing wards between constituencies, as the local government ward boundaries have changed.
The existing Stafford constituency extends eastwards and southwards from the town of Stafford itself. The BCE have considered a pattern of constituencies in which the Stafford constituency broadly covered the same areas. However, due to their proposed changes elsewhere in Staffordshire, this would not have been possible without dividing the Cannock Chase district between constituencies. The existing Cannock Chase constituency is coterminous with its district boundary and can remain wholly unchanged. They’ve therefore proposed extending the Stafford constituency northwards and westwards from the town of Stafford, including wards from the surrounding Stafford district together with the Loggerheads, and Maer & Whitmore wards from the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
The existing Stone constituency has an electorate that is within the permitted range; however, retaining the constituency wholly unchanged would have knock-on effects across Staffordshire, which the BCE consider would cause unnecessary disruption to areas that could otherwise be wholly unchanged or only minimally changed. They’ve proposed a constituency that comprises the Borough of Stafford town of Stone, together with the South Staffordshire district towns of Penkridge and Great Wyrley. The BCE say that they recognise that this constituency may have limited community ties, but consider that no alternative configuration of constituencies in Staffordshire would better reflect the statutory factors. They’ve recommended naming this constituency Stone and Great Wyrley, to reflect the main population centres in the proposed constituency.
This affects many of our members, currently part of Stafford Constituency. Milford, Colwich, the Haywoods, Hixon will form part of the new Stone and Great Wyrley constituency.
You can find details of the proposals on the BCE website: https://www.bcereviews.org.uk/ or by downloading the attached report.
You can also view the plans at Stafford Library and Stone Town Council Office.
You can see what this means for you here: https://www.bcereviews.org.uk/node/6490
Make your feelings known. The deadline for providing feedback to the BCE is 2nd August.