West Midlands’ political map redrawn in sweeping parliamentary boundary changes
Sweeping changes to parliamentary constituencies on a scale unprecedented for more than 70 years will radically reset the political map of the West Midlands, writes Paul Dale.
The Boundary Commission was given a tricky task by the Government, to make sure that no parliamentary constituency has an electorate smaller than 71,031 or larger than 78,507.
That meant there could be no mere tinkering around the edges. With less than 8,000 votes separating too small and too large, huge changes were bound to be necessary.
Most of the West Midlands’ constituencies presently fall outside of those parameters. The commission’s draft proposals published today would see the region allocated 53 constituencies, a reduction of six from the current number.
Only seven out of the existing 59 constituencies will remain unchanged if the plans are accepted by the Government. And, unusually, many constituencies will be re-drawn to cross local authority and county boundaries.
A period of public consultation will follow while politicians scrabble to decipher the new constituencies map and determine the gainers and the losers.
The commission in its introduction to the proposals underlined the difficult task it had faced:
In the West Midlands county, we noted that, while it should be possible to create the required number of constituencies without creating any cross-county boundary constituencies, the size of the ward electorates, particularly in Birmingham and Dudley, means that this is not a straightforward task. We also noted that it was not always possible to create constituencies wholly within a metropolitan borough, and that it would be necessary to propose constituencies that contained parts of two neighbouring boroughs.
While Birmingham will retain its ten constituencies, boundaries will be re-drawn to bring in parts of neighbouring Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, while it is proposed that the Liberal Democrat stronghold of Sheldon in east Birmingham will be absorbed into a new Solihull constituency.
Coventry North West, held by veteran Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson, would disappear under the proposals to be replaced by a new constituency – Coventry West and Meriden to include the Solihull borough wards of Knowle and Meriden. The new seat would probably be won by the Conservatives.
Across the country as a whole the biggest shake-up of parliamentary boundaries since 1944 is expected to hit Labour the hardest with the party predicted to lose 25 seats at the next General Election as a direct result of boundary changes. The Conservatives could lose about ten seats and the Liberal Democrats three.
The proposals will see 50 seats disappear, reducing the size of the House of Commons from 650 MPs to 600.
Ironically, the Boundary Commission may succeed where Labour’s shadow ministerial team failed – the proposals would see the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency in London leaving the party leader scrabbling to be selected in a new Finsbury Park and Stoke Newington seat.
Here are the proposals for the West Midlands:
No changes are proposed to the two existing constituencies of Birmingham Hodge Hill, and Sutton Coldfield.
Birmingham Erdington – to contain the city wards of Erdington, Kingstanding, and Stockland Green from the existing Erdington constituency, together with Oscott and the Walsall borough ward of Pheasey Park Farm.
Birmingham Perry Barr – to contain the three city wards of Handsworth Wood, Lozells and East Handsworth, and Perry Barr, together with the Birmingham city ward of Aston, and the Sandwell borough ward of Newton.
Birmingham Yardley – to contain the Birmingham city wards of Acocks Green, South Yardley, and Stechford and Yardley North from the existing Yardley constituency, together with the Birmingham city ward of Hall Green.
Birmingham Ladywood – to contain the three city wards of Ladywood, Nechells, and Soho from the existing Ladywood constituency, together with the city ward of Tyburn, and the Sandwell borough ward of Soho and Victoria.
Birmingham Edgbaston – to contain the city wards of Edgbaston, Harborne, and Quinton from the existing Edgbaston constituency, together with the Birmingham city ward of Sparkbrook, and the Sandwell borough ward of Abbey.
Birmingham Brandwood – a new constituency to contain the four wards of Billesley, Brandwood, Kings Norton, and Springfield.
Birmingham Northfield – to contain the four city wards of Bournville, Longbridge, Moseley and Kings Heath, and Northfield .
Birmingham Selly Oak and Halesowen – a new constituency to contain the three Birmingham wards of Bartley Green, Selly Oak, and Weoley, together with the three Dudley borough wards of Belle Vale, Halesowen North, and Halesowen South.
Elsewhere in the West Midlands the following changes are proposed:
The three existing parliamentary seats would be reduced to two. Coventry North East constituency will be left unchanged, while a new Coventry West and Meriden constituency will include the two Solihull borough wards of Knowle and Meriden as well as five Coventry city wards. The remaining seven Coventry city wards are to form a Coventry South constituency.
A new Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North constituency is proposed containing five wards from the Chelmsley Wood part of the existing Meriden constituency, two wards (Elmdon and Lyndon) from the existing Solihull constituency, and the Birmingham city ward of Sheldon. The remaining nine wards in the south of the borough will form a cross-county boundary constituency together with the Stratford on Avon district ward of Tanworth-in-Arden to be called Shirley and Solihull South.
The two North Warwickshire borough wards of Arley and Whitacre, and Hartshill to be included in the North Warwickshire constituency, uniting the North Warwickshire district in one constituency.
Nuneaton constituency to be extended to include the Nuneaton and Bedworth borough ward of Bulkington, and the three Rugby borough wards of Revel and Binley Woods, Wolston and the Lawfords, and Wolvey and Shilton – a move that could turn Nuneaton into a safe Conservative seat.
Rugby constituency to be extended to include seven wards of the Stratford-on-Avon district, including Southam, in a constituency called Rugby and Southam.
A new constituency named Kenilworth and Leamington to contain 17 Warwick district wards based on the towns of Kenilworth and Royal Leamington Spa.
The five remaining Warwick district wards, including the town of Warwick, to be included in a constituency with 21 wards from the Stratford-on-Avon district, including the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, in a constituency to be called Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon.
Seven wards from the south of the Stratford-on-Avon district to be included in a constituency with 21 Wychavon district wards in a cross-county boundary constituency called Evesham and South Warwickshire.
The rest of the West Midlands
Eight Bromsgrove district wards, including the towns of Alvechurch and Wythall, to be placed in a Redditch constituency with the whole of Redditch borough. It is proposed that that the remaining 22 Bromsgrove district wards be included in a constituency with seven Wychavon district wards, including the town of Droitwich, in a constituency called Bromsgrove and Droitwich.
The constituencies of Burton, Cannock Chase, and South Staffordshire are to remain unchanged.
It is proposed to extend the existing Tamworth constituency to include the whole of the Lichfield district ward of Whittington & Streethay within the constituency.
A new Stoke-on-Trent North constituency is planned to contain 14 wards from the north of the city. A Stoke-on-Trent South constituency to contain 18 wards from the south and east of the city is also proposed.
A new West Staffordshire constituency would be created to include the remaining four wards from the Newcastle-under-Lyme borough, the remaining six wards from the Stafford borough, and the remaining five wards from the City of Stoke-on-Trent.
A new cross-county boundary constituency called Ludlow and Leominster is proposed containing 15 wards from Herefordshire and 11 wards from Shropshire.
The existing Telford constituency would be extended to include the two Telford and Wrekin district wards of Donnington, and Hadley & Leegomery, which are in the existing The Wrekin constituency. It is proposed to extend the existing The Wrekin constituency by including six Shropshire county wards, from the existing Ludlow constituency, including the towns of Bridgnorth, Broseley, and Much Wenlock, in a constituency called Bridgnorth, Wellington and The Wrekin.
The existing Aldridge-Brownhills constituency to be extended to include the two Walsall borough wards of Bloxwich East, and Bloxwich West, from the existing Walsall North constituency. The new constituency to be called Aldridge, Brownhills and Bloxwich.
A new Wolverhampton West constituency is proposed to contain six of the seven wards from the existing Wolverhampton South West constituency, together with the two Wolverhampton city wards of Bushbury North, and Oxley from the existing Wolverhampton North East constituency.
A proposed Wolverhampton South and Coseley constituency to contain five Wolverhampton city wards and one Dudley borough ward from the existing Wolverhampton South East constituency, together with the two Dudley borough wards of Sedgley, and Upper Gornal and Woodsetton, from the existing Dudley North constituency.
A proposed Dudley East and Tipton constituency to contain three Dudley borough wards from the existing Dudley North constituency, four Sandwell borough wards from the existing West Bromwich West constituency, and one Sandwell borough ward from the existing West Bromwich East constituency.
A proposed Warley constituency to contain eight Sandwell borough wards, four from the existing Warley constituency, three from the existing Halesowen and Rowley Regis constituency, and one from the existing West Bromwich West constituency.
A single West Bromwich constituency would contain eight Sandwell borough wards, five from the existing West Bromwich East constituency, two from the existing West Bromwich West constituency, and one from the existing Warley constituency.
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