Northumberland set to lose one of its MPs

The political map in Northumberland is set to be torn up, with the county expected to lose one of its MPs.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 1:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 5:26 pm
Clockwise from top left, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed; Ian Levy, MP for Blyth Valley; Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck; and Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham.

England’s biggest local authority is currently represented in Westminster by four constituencies – Berwick-upon-Tweed, Blyth Valley, Hexham and Wansbeck.

But under the latest proposals put forward by the Boundary Commission for England, this could be reduced to three, with Blyth and Wansbeck merged and a host of changes for the remaining two.

MPs were given early sight of the proposals, which are expected to maintain the House of Commons’s current full strength figure of 650 representatives, yesterday (Monday, June 7) ahead of the report’s official publication early today (Tuesday, June 8).

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Berwick’s Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan was cautiously optimistic about the review.

She said: “I have reviewed the initial proposals and they seem a sensible way of increasing the size of the electorate in what is presently the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency.

“I would of course be very sad to lose Longhorsley ward and the wonderful parishes it contains."

The latest review follows two previous failed attempts, in 2013 and 2018, which were rejected by MPs after proposals included slashing the number of constituencies from 650 to 600.

The commission’s new report seeks to ensure constituencies have roughly equal numbers of voters – about 73,000 each – except in a handful of seats given ‘protected’ status due to their size and low populations.

Northumberland’s only Labour MP, Ian Lavery, who is set to see his Wansbeck seat merged with Blyth, was more sceptical about the possible changes, which are now set to go out for public consultation before they are finalised.

He said: “I appreciate that reviewing boundaries is always necessary over a period of time to ensure they are kept up to date with population changes in different areas across the country.

“Yet I am concerned about the fact the North East will lose two MPs that will be redistributed to other parts of the country further south.

“I will keep a close eye on where the lines are drawn and am ready to make my voice heard if I consider any changes to be unjustified.”