Shropshire Star

Wrekin constituency name saved in boundaries shake-up

Campaigners were celebrating today after plans to rename The Wrekin constituency as Newport and Wellington have been dropped.

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Mark Pritchard

Their significant victory was revealed as a new draft electoral map for Shropshire is released today.

People living in the county now have just under a month to give their final say on proposed shake-up of parliamentary constituencies.

The final consultation on the shake-up MP's seats runs until December 5, although the changes will not come into effect until after the next General Election.

The changes were first proposed last year, and were put to a second public consultation in March.

But plans to rename The Wrekin constituency as Newport and Wellington were met with a number of objections, including one from Mark Pritchard, the MP who represents the constituency.

The name-change plans have now been dropped, with the Boundary Commission accepting that The Wrekin name should be retained.

If adopted, the plans will see the constituency expanded to take in Hodnet and Cheswardine from the neighbouring North Shropshire constituency. This will mean Clive Barracks at Tern Hill would in future come under The Wrekin constituency.

The Ludlow seat, represented by Conservative Philip Dunne since 2005, will be extended northwards to take in the Burnell and Severn Valley wards which at the moment form part of Shrewsbury & Atcham, if the plans are adopted.

It is now proposed that the constituency will be renamed South Shropshire after previous proposals to rename it Ludlow and Bridgnorth received a poor response.

Atcham will be dropped from the name of the Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency, currently held by Conservative Daniel Kawczynski, which will become plain Shrewsbury.

The commissioners say the changes are necessary to ensure that all seats in the UK have no fewer than 69,724 constituents, and no more than 77,062.

The number of constituents in both Shrewsbury & Atcham, and North Shropshire – held by Liberal Democrat Helen Morgan since last December's by-election – both have more than 80,000 electors.

The proposals have all been backed by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties. But Labour has called for a realignment of the boundary between the seats of Telford and The Wrekin.

Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, called for Hadley and Leegomery to be moved out of The Wrekin constituency and into Telford, with Priorslee moving the other way.

Councillor Davies said Priorslee ‘has never really been part of Telford New Town’, adding that ‘It has closer links to Shifnal’.

Councillor Vanessa Holt said Hadley and Leegomery would benefit from being included in the Telford constituency, where its ties were strongest.

Telford, previously a Labour stronghold, has been held by Conservative Lucy Allan since 2015.

But the assistant commissioners said there had been other representations opposing Councillor Davies' counter-proposal, and said there was no reason to change the proposals.

Tim Bowden, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, urged people to have their say on the proposals in the final consultation before they are presented to parliament next year.

He said the new electoral map was the result of months of analysis.

"We have revised nearly half of our initial proposals based on what people have told us. We now believe we are close to the best map of constituencies that can be achieved under the rules we are working to.

"However, we still want people to tell us what they think of this latest map before we submit our final recommendations."

Previous plans, first proposed by David Cameron's government, would have seen the total number of MPs reduced from 650 to 600, but these were abandoned before the last General Election.