'Confusing': Plans for Wrekin constituency name change come under fire

Plans to change the name of The Wrekin constituency are confusing, and "people won't like them," it has been claimed.

A number of local politicians have reacted to the boundary commission proposals for The Wrekin to lose the name it has had since 1918 and be named "Wellington and Newport" instead.

Currently represented by Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, the constituency wraps around Telford, taking in rural areas like Wrockwardine and Ercall Magna.

The majority of it comes under the Telford & Wrekin Council boundary but some parts, like Shifnal and Albrighton, are under Shropshire Council.

Proposals by the Boundary Commission for England include extending the seat north to include areas like Cheswardine, Hodnet and Stoke Heath.

Councillors from within the constituency have expressed scepticism, with a former parliamentary candidate saying it made “little sense” to change to a name that excludes many smaller communities.

Wrekin Conservative Party chairman Emma Thomas, who is also a Waters Upton parish councillor, said her personal preference was to keep the current name instead of changing to Newport and Wellington.

She said: “The constituency is made up of a lot of rural areas and also Albrighton and Shifnal, which are not naturally appended to either town."

Councillor Thomas Janke represents Newport South and East on Telford and Wrekin Council and stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate for The Wrekin in the 2019 general election.

He said: “There are lots of proud rural villagers who do not necessarily identify as Novaportans or have a close relation to Wellington.

“The Wrekin is a long-established constituency name that I feel the overall majority in the area are likely to feel associated with, so it makes little sense to change the name that only identifies with only two towns.”

Independent Newport North and West councillor Peter Scott, who also served as the town’s mayor from 2018 until earlier this year, said he would favour either keeping the current name or changing to a general name like “East Shropshire”.

Affiliation

“People won’t like the proposed name,” he said.

“It’s confusing.”

Hadley and Leegomery parish councillor member Stuart Parr, whose Hadley Castle ward lies just inside The Wrekin’s southern border with Telford, and would remain there under the proposed new boundaries, asked: “What affiliation do people in Shifnal, Cosford, Albrighton, Hodnet or Cheswardine have with Wellington or Newport?

“Shifnal is practically joined to Telford. Albrighton and Cosford are as close to Wolves as Wellington. Hodnet and Cheswardine are in Market Drayton’s sphere.”

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is currently consulting on potential changes to Telford and Wrekin Council’s ward map.

Conservative Cllr Parr said his response to that consultation called for local authority areas and parliamentary constituency boundaries to be coterminous, and said he was concerned that the LGBCE’s process was underway before the outcome of the BCE’s consultation was known.

The BCE will report to Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in summer 2023, recommending changes to the shape and naming of constituencies.

A guide to the review, published by the Boundary Commission for England, says constituencies should each hold approximately 70,000 to 77,000 voters.

“The BCE’s policy on the name of constituencies is that, when constituencies remain largely unchanged, the existing constituency name should usually be retained,” it adds.

“Generally, the BCE considers that the name should normally reflect the main population centre(s) contained in the constituency, as that will likely be the main focal point.

“However, if a suitable alternative name is proposed which generally commands strong support locally, the BCE will usually be prepared to recommend that alternative.”

For more information on the review visit bcereviews.org.uk. The consultation will close on August 2.

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