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MP angry over boundary changes as constituency to disappear

By Mark Andrews | Mid Wales | Politics | Published:

A Conservative MP from our region has called for the Government to rethink its plans to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies, warning they will fundamentally undermine democracy.

Glyn Davies, MP for Montgomeryshire, says he has grave concerns about the plans to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600

The Boundary Commissions for England and Wales published its proposed changes to parliamentary constituencies yesterday, which will see the number of MPs reduced from 650 to 600.

They will see Glyn Davies’s Montgomeryshire seat broken up and merged with two neighbouring constituencies.

Philip Dunne’s Ludlow seat will also be split, with Bridgnorth being moved into Mark Pritchard’s Wrekin constituency. The revised Ludlow seat would expand southwards across the Herefordshire border to take in Leominster.

A small part of the existing Ludlow seat will be absorbed into Daniel Kawczynski’s Shrewsbury constituency – which will lose Atcham from its title.

Lucy Allan’s Telford seat will be expanded to include Leegomery and Hadley.

How are you affected?

Glyn Davies, MP for Montgomeryshire, said he had grave concerns about the plans, which are unchanged from proposals which went out to consultation last year.

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The Electoral Reform Society also voiced concerns, saying that reducing the number of backbench MPs would mean Parliament would be less able to hold the Government to account.

The changes will see Mr Davies’s Montgomeryshire constituency disappear in its present form, with the north of the area, including Welshpool, merged with Clwyd South, to form a new South Clwyd and Montgomeryshire constituency.

Meanwhile, the southern part of the constituency, including Newtown, will become part of a new Brecon, Radnor and Montgomery seat.

Mr Davies, who has held the seat since 2010, has previously said that he would not stand for Parliament again if the changes went ahead.

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He said he would do all he could to frustrate the changes.

“These proposals reduce the number of Welsh MPs from the current 40 to 29, and carve up Montgomeryshire into small bits added on to neighbouring constituencies, destroying centuries of history and fundamentally undermining democracy in central Wales,” he said.

“I continue to do all I can to cause delay and a rethink of these damaging proposals.”

'Badly thought out'

Mr Davies said he accepted that a review of the boundaries was necessary, but said the proposals had been badly thought out.

“Populations move around, and it’s been too long since the last review of constituency boundaries,” he said.

But he said the Boundary Commission was being forced to operate under restrictions which made it difficult to respect the history of the areas the constituencies served.

“It’s the cut from 650 MPs to 600 MPs which does the damage.

“I also fundamentally disagree with the restrictions imposed on the Boundary Commission in framing the new boundaries. The current Act limits the size of constituencies within a per cent tolerance of the average (71,000 to 78,000) – allowing little discretion to make allowance for history, geography and cultural difference.”

He said the Act had been framed by bureaucrats with little knowledge of what would work.

Mr Davies also said that the argument about cutting the cost of politics by reducing the number of MPs was nonsense when membership of the House of Lords had risen to about 800.

He said getting rid of MEPs when Britain leaves the EU would also save money.

“The whole fiasco was concocted in response to public outrage about the abuse of Parliamentary expenses in the past, and undermined democracy, especially in Wales,” Mr Davies added.

Mr Dunne said there was a real need to reduce the number of MPs and to create a fairer distribution of seats.

He questioned whether it would be seen as a priority for the Government, though.

“I’m supportive of reducing the number of MPs,” he said.

“While the implications for my constituency are significant, I think its fairer.

“My suspicion is that the Government has enough on its plate, and won’t be wanting to do this for now, but I hope it is implemented.”

What is happening elsewhere in the region?

The two parliamentary constituencies covering Telford & Wrekin will see major changes, if proposals put forward by the Boundary Commission are implemented.

The proposals would see Bridgnorth absorbed into The Wrekin seat, held at the moment by Conservative Mark Pritchard.

The new seat, which would be renamed Bridgnorth and The Wrekin, will also include Broseley, Highley and the Claverley and Alveley and Harrington wards to the east of the River Severn.

But the Leegomery and Hadley wards, at present part of The Wrekin, would be transferred into the neighbouring Telford seat.

This could have big implications for Telford MP Lucy Allan, who at the moment holds the seat with a majority of just 720.

At the moment, Bridgnorth forms part of the Ludlow seat held by Philip Dunne.

Identical

But under the proposals, the Ludlow seat would change dramatically, with Chirbury and Worthen also being transferred into the Shrewsbury & Atcham seat, which would see Atcham dropped from its name.

The remainder of the Ludlow seat, made up of the town itself, plus Bishop’s Castle, Brown Clee, Clee Hill, Burford, Church Stretton & Craven Arms, Cleobury Mortimer, Clun, Corvedale and Much Wenlock, would join 15 wards from North Herefordshire in a newly named constituency of Ludlow and Leominster.

The proposals for Shropshire, which leave the North Shropshire seat held by Owen Paterson unchanged, are identical to the ones put out for public consultation last year.

Mr Pritchard said he supported the changes in principle, but questioned whether they would be implemented.

“I will continue to serve my constituents under the current parliamentary boundaries,” he said. “The boundaries do need to reflect population changes. However, time will tell if they get voted through.”

Mr Dunne said while the review would mean a huge change for his constituents, he said action was needed to make for a fairer distribution of votes.

But he said he did not expect the changes to be considered by Parliament before Brexit had taken place.

Under the changes for Ludlow, the Chirbury & Worthen ward would be moved into a renamed Shrewsbury constituency, replacing the existing Shrewsbury and Atcham seat held by Daniel Kawczynski.

Bridgnorth, Broseley, Highley, and the Claverley and Alveley and Harrington wards to the east of the River Severn would become part of a new Bridgnorth and The Wrekin constituency, which would also include most of the existing Wrekin seat presently held by Mark Pritchard.

The remainder of the Ludlow seat, including the town itself, along with Bishop’s Castle, Brown Clee, Clee Hill, Burford, Church Stretton & Craven Arms, Cleobury Mortimer, Clun, Corvedale and Much Wenlock would join 15 wards from north Herefordshire, to create a new Ludlow and Leominster constituency.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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