DevComms director Maria Allaway looks at the proposed boundary changes in the Thames Valley, which were put forward by the Boundary Commission last week.
The South East is set to gain seven Parliamentary constituencies through proposed changes to electoral boundaries in 2023.
The Electoral Boundary Commission of England has just launched the first of two consultations which will seek the views of the population on the ‘initial thoughts’ for the new boundaries.
The currently proposed changes are the biggest shake up of the electoral boundary system in more than 10 years when four new additional constituencies were created, which increased the total number from 646 to 650.
The proposed 2023 boundary review will see the total number of constituencies remain at 650.
However, it has been reported that the changes are designed to give each constituency a similar number of voters per seat (between 69,724 and 77,062).
This is intended to address population changes across the country and reset the balance between those constituencies that have fewer seats which are perceived to be ‘easier wins’ come election time.
Across England, the north will have fewer constituencies whilst southern England will have more.
Looking at the South East in particular, the number of constituencies will increase from 84 to 91.
Thirteen of the original 84 constituencies will remain unchanged but some newly formed constituencies will cross county boundaries.
This is the case in Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire which will have two additional constituencies. In Berkshire and Surrey, a constituency could potentially combine Windsor (Berkshire) and Egham (Surrey), whilst in Surrey and Hampshire a realigned constituency would cover Bordon (East Hants) with Farnham and Haslemere (Surrey).
In more detail, a summary of some of the main changes across the Thames Valley are as follows:
The Buckingham Parliamentary constituency could be realigned to include Bletchley (Milton Keynes) whilst some villages that are currently part of the existing Buckingham constituency could become part of a new Princes Risborough constituency.
It has been reported locally that the changes have been met with some dissatisfaction by Buckingham MP, Greg Smith.
Further south in Buckinghamshire, a new constituency called Marlow and South Buckinghamshire could be created, and the boundaries of Chesham and Amersham would be amended to include other areas, such as Hazlemere (currently in Wycombe).
Wycombe MP, Steve Baker, has referred to the proposed boundary changes in Buckinghamshire as ‘dramatic proposals for the county’ and said ‘I would want to keep the constituency without any changes if I could’.
In Oxfordshire, Bicester could potentially have its own constituency rather than being part of the Banbury constituency. Victoria Prentis, North Oxfordshire MP has commented locally that it has been necessary to review the Banbury electoral boundary given the amount of growth in that part of the county,
In Berkshire, a number of changes are proposed. The Wokingham and Reading constituencies would become significantly larger and a new Mid-Berkshire constituency would be created to cover the west of the county. Boundary changes would also take place for the town of Newbury.
The region’s MPs are urging constituents to review and comment on the proposed changes through the consultation which closes on August 2, 2021. All changes can be reviewed and feedback provided via https://www.bcereviews.org.uk/.
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