Counter-proposals put forward for changes to Northumberland constituencies

The Tories and the Lib Dems would rather see Morpeth join the Berwick constituency than Ashington, as part of responses to a key consultation.

Saturday, 3rd December 2016, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 11:41 am
The proposed bourndaries which show the Berwick and Ashington stretching down the coast, but the likes of Rothbury, Coquetdale and Longhorsley in the Hexham and Morpeth constituency.

In September, the independent Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published its initial proposals for new Parliamentary constituencies, which will see the number in Northumberland reduced from four to three.

The publication marked the beginning of 12 weeks of public consultation, which ends on Monday, and a number of counter-proposals have been put forward.

The report on the proposals for the North East explains that the BCE has ‘needed to make substantial changes to the existing constituencies’ in Northumberland due to the numbers of electors in the current constituencies:

l The proposed Berwick and Ashington constituency retains 13 wards from the existing constituency. Eight wards would be added to this constituency, including the town of Ashington, from the existing Wansbeck constituency.

This reconfiguration results in a Berwick and Ashington constituency that extends down the North Sea coast to the north bank of the River Wansbeck and includes the Choppington ward to the south.

l The proposed Hexham and Morpeth constituency has retained 15 wards of the existing Hexham constituency and has had five wards, including the town of Morpeth, from the existing Wansbeck constituency transferred to it, as well as the divided wards of Longhorsley and Pegswood and four wards from the existing Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency, including Rothbury.

l The proposed Blyth Valley constituency has retained 17 wards of the existing constituency and has had five wards from the existing Wansbeck constituency transferred to it, which has enabled the three Bedlington wards to be kept together in a constituency.

l While the BCE is obliged to take into account local-government boundaries, the proposed constituency of Newcastle upon Tyne North West crosses the county boundary of Northumberland, with the inclusion of the Ponteland East and Stannington ward from the existing Wansbeck constiuency.

In general, Labour supports these initial proposals, offering no counter-proposals to the Hexham and Morpeth, and Newcastle upon Tyne North West suggestions, while simply moving Stakeford from Blyth Valley to the Berwick and Ashington constituency.

The Conservatives favour a Berwick and Morpeth constituency, including Rothbury, Bothal and Choppington, and a Blyth and Ashington constituency, featuring Stakeford and Cramlington East. This would leave a Hexham and Cramlington constituency, including Ponteland East and Stannington, but not Cramlington East.

The Lib Dems also favour a Berwick, Alnwick and Morpeth constituency, also including Rothbury, plus Newbiggin Central and East.

Again, there would be an Ashington and Blyth constituency, this time featuring Bothal, Choppington, Seaton and Newbiggin West, but not Newbiggin Central and East.

A Hexham and Tyne Valley constituency would include a number of Tyneside wards, but not Ponteland South with Heddon, which would be in Newcastle upon Tyne North West.