THE independent Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has begun a new review of all parliamentary constituencies in England.
The move, which could have huge implications in Tameside, follows a decision by Parliament to retain the number of constituencies in the UK at 650 and to ensure that there are roughly the same number of electors in each constituency.
The BCE is tasked with making independent recommendations about where the boundaries of English constituencies should be.The total UK electorate has been announced by the Office for National Statistics as 47,558,398, which means the number of electors in each recommended mainland English constituency must be no less than 69,724 and no more than 77,062.
England will have 543 constituencies, 10 more than there are currently. The Commission has also decided how those constituencies will be distributed among the English regions.
The BCE now begins work on its initial proposals for new boundaries, which are expected to be published early this summer.
The publication of those proposals will begin an eight-week consultation period, during which the BCE will invite comments on the proposals to capture the views and knowledge of local residents particularly.
In early 2022, the BCE will also be travelling across England to hear from people in person. All comments will help the Commission further refine the boundary proposals before views are sought on any revisions later in 2022.
The Commission must submit its final report and recommendations to the Speaker of the House of Commons by July 2023.
The last review in 2018, which is now void, was based on the number of UK 600 constituencies being cut from 650 to 600.
In that review, the proposal would “pull this lovely constituency apart” according to Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde.
Hyde would have moved into a constituency with Marple, while Stalybridge, Mossley and all Dukinfield join a new Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge seat.But the plan was criticised as “nonsense” by Mr Reynolds.
At that time, he wrote on his Facebook page in response to the announcement: “Stalybridge and Hyde has been a constituency for a century this year (happy birthday to us!) and to me makes much more sense as it is in a cohesive community than the proposed alternative.
“I am glad they have at least listened to my insistence that Stalybridge is not a suburb of Ashton and must not fall off the parliamentary map as it did in their last proposals.
“However, the Hyde and Marple seat crosses different councils, rivers and railway lines and lumps together very disparate communities.
“I am not sure Boundary Commission officials have ever actually been here and spoken with people about their lives, their routes to work and who they consider their closest neighbours. It seems a lot like this map was drawn up at a desk in London.
“It seems daft to pull this lovely constituency apart in an act of needless bureaucracy.
“The good news is, I doubt it will ever happen. This is the third time in recent years the Tory government have commissioned these boundary changes – they have never come to fruition before, and I’m cynical that they will now.”
TAMESIDE’S Conservatives have failed in their bid to reduce the number of councillors in the borough from 57 to 43.
There was disappointment after the Local Government Boundary Commission decided the number should remain unchanged.
The Conservatives proposed each councillor had a third more constituents, rising to 4,000 people from the current total of just over 3,000.
Instead of three councillors for each ward at present, there would be single or two member wards.
Councillor Liam Billington, who represents Stalybridge South, believes having smaller wards would be more representative.
He explained: “Londgendale, Godley and Hattersley, for example, are in the same ward.
“Perhaps the Longdendale villages be one ward and Hattersley have its own ward.
“It is the same in the Dukinfield/Stalybridge ward which is also a mish-mash.”
“And by making the geographic areas more condensed, we believe it is a better way of targeting resources.”
The Conservative group would also have liked the local government elections held once every four years rather than the rolling format at present.
By having only one set of elections, Cllr Billington estimates £500,000 savings would have been made.
The Local Government Boundary Commission, however, is still developing a new pattern of wards for Tameside and wants to hear what residents and organisations think.
A 10-week consultation has begun and will run until April 5.
The Commission is the independent body that draws these boundaries. It is reviewing Tameside to make sure councillors represent about the same number of electors, and that ward arrangements help the council work effectively.
The Commission will use local views to help it draw up proposals for new ward boundaries. There will be a further round of consultation once the Commission has drawn up those proposals.
The Commission has a dedicated section on its website where people can give their views: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/24716
People can also give their views by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by post: Review Officer (Tameside), LGBCE, PO Box 133, Blyth, NE24 9FE.