A new proposed arrangement for the electoral map in Northumberland has been revealed today, although it still features a reduction from four constituencies to three.
If approved, the amended proposals would see the formation of the following constituencies: Berwick and Morpeth; Blyth and Ashington; Hexham and Cramlington. Every single ward in Northumberland would be included in these three constituencies, unlike the previous proposals.
Following a decision by Parliament to reduce the number of constituencies in the UK from 650 to 600 and to ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is equal, the independent Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has been asked to make recommendations about where the boundaries of English constituencies should be.
An initial 12-week consultation was held in the autumn last year, giving the public the first chance to view and comment on BCE’s plans. Strong community evidence was received from across the North East, both supporting and countering BCE’s initial proposals.
All of these comments were published as part of the second consultation in the spring and more than 25,000 public responses were received across the country during these consultations.
In the North East, particularly compelling evidence was received regarding Northumberland, as well as Cleveland and parts of County Durham, where the Commission has decided to move away from its initial plans. Based on what the public has said, the BCE has decided to revise 80 per cent of its initial proposals for the region.
The original proposals were for a Berwick and Ashington constituency; an amended Blyth Valley constituency and a Hexham and Morpeth constituency. Plus, the Ponteland East and Stannington ward was to be included in the proposed constituency of Newcastle upon Tyne North West.
The proposals for the third and final consultation, which opens today, instead adds Morpeth, Pegswood, Stakeford and Bellingham to the Berwick constituency, which also retains Rothbury unlike the earlier proposals.
This means that Ashington and the surrounding area goes into a new constituency with Blyth, while the expanded Hexham constituency adds Cramlington, not Morpeth as was suggested previously, and retains Ponteland.
From today, people can go to the BCE’s website to view the new plans. All the public comments received during the first two consultations are also published on the website. People have until Monday, December 11, to have their say.
Following this third and final consultation, the Boundary Commissioners will consider all the evidence submitted throughout the process. They will then decide on their final recommendations before submitting them to Parliament in September next year. If agreed by Parliament, the new constituencies will be in use at the next scheduled General Election in 2022.
Sam Hartley, secretary to the BCE, said: "We're delighted with the huge number of comments on our initial proposals that we've received from members of the public, many of which contain valuable evidence about people's local communities.
"Based on what people have said to us, we have revised more than half of our initial proposals. The new map of the country we publish today is, we think, close to the best set of parliamentary constituencies we can achieve, based on the rules to which we work and the evidence given to us by local citizens.
"But we still want people to tell us what they think of this latest map before we make our final recommendations to Parliament next year. It's so important to have your say in this fundamental democratic exercise."
Wards in the proposed Northumberland constituencies
Berwick and Morpeth: Alnwick; Amble; Amble West with Warkworth; Bamburgh; Bellingham; Berwick East; Berwick North; Berwick West with Ord; Choppington; Druridge Bay; Longhorsley; Longhoughton; Morpeth Kirkhill; Morpeth North; Morpeth Stobhill; Norham and Islandshires; Pegswood; Rothbury; Shilbottle; Stakeford; Wooler.
Blyth and Ashington: Ashington Central; Bedlington Central; Bedlington East; Bedlington West; Bothal; College; Cowpen; Croft; Hartley; Haydon; Hirst; Holywell; Isabella; Kitty Brewster; Lynemouth; Newbiggin Central and East; Newsham; Plessey; Seaton with Newbiggin West; Seghill with Seaton Delaval; Sleekburn; South Blyth; Wensleydale.
Hexham and Cramlington: Bywell; Corbridge; Cramlington East; Cramlington Eastfield; Cramlington North; Cramlington South East; Cramlington Village; Cramlington West; Haltwhistle; Haydon and Hadrian; Hexham Central with Acomb; Hexham East; Hexham West; Humshaugh; Ponteland East and Stannington; Ponteland North; Ponteland South with Heddon; Ponteland West; Prudhoe North; Prudhoe South; South Tynedale; Stocksfield and Broomhaugh.