Major changes to Somerset constituencies
The Boundary Commission for England announced proposals for new constituencies across the country this morning. If confirmed, and there is some way to go as yet, it will mean major changes to the shape of Somerset politics.
The biggest changes will see the creation of two new smaller constituencies. Bridgwater is to be separated from West Somerset and Frome from Somerton and Frome. Each would have its own constituency. Each being a left of centre stronghold, both Labour and the Libdems will hope to improve their prospects in the county.
Frome will also acquire Midsomer Norton and Radstock to make the new constituency.
Bridgwater will also take in Burnham on Sea, currently a part of Wells constituency.
Glastonbury and Street are to be carved out of Wells constituency and added to Somerton and Langport. The new constituency to be named Glastonbury and Somerton.
I doubt if Ian Liddell Grainger will mind losing Bridgwater, and gaining a chunk of rural Devon. His new constituency will be called Tiverton and Minehead.
Yeovil and Taunton will remain relatively unchanged. Wells will also remain relatively unchanged although it has been chipped away at the edges. It gains Yatton and loses Street and Glastonbury. It is also proposed for a name change. The new constituency to be called Wells and Mendip Hills.
There now follows an initial consultation on the proposals for an eight-week period, from 8 June to 2 August 2021. to find out more visit http://www.bcereviews.org.uk From here the timetable is as follows:
- Early 2022: Publish responses to initial proposals and conduct six-week ‘secondary consultation’, including between two and five public hearings in each region;
- Late 2022: Publish revised proposals and conduct four-week written consultation;
- June 2023: Submit and publish final report and recommendations.
Leveller comment: the big disappointment in this review is not the changes within Somerset. It is the loss of a system of government which largely followed coterminous boundaries.
Currently the five parliamentary constituencies, district councils and county council all operate to a single set of boundaries.
The new proposals make it all a bit messy. Hatton from North Somerset now with Wells. Midsomer Norton from Bath and North East Somerset now with Frome. A chunk of North Devon lumped in with Minehead and Exmoor.
We are tidying up local government into one or two unitary councils. This proposal will create unnecessary confusion and complication to the way we are governed.
This shows yet again that Government isn’t joined up!
If The SoS Jenrick of the MHCLG decides to approve the new “One Somerset” unitary proposal based upon the current Somerset County Council area then the new Tiverton and Minehead constituency is no longer contiguous with the proposed unitary council.
Equally, Yatton is in North Somerset, so again, the new Somerset unitary will no longer be contiguous with that constituency either.
Should the new unitary be aligned with the new constituencies or not? Currently, the existing constituencies are aligned to Somerset County Council.
Should the current squabble over a unitary only for the old 1974 rump of Somerset (not the whole historic County of Somerset) be delayed until the boundaries are consulted on and settled?
These are draft proposals.
They are radically different to the previous ones and have only just been made available to the councils so your complaint is a very unfair one.
Also there is no guarantee how the constituencies will look once the legitimate feedback on the proposals has been considered.
“All it will take for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing”!
Your correspondent David Orr has put his finger on the ‘crux’ of the issue, an irony having just ‘celebrated’ Somerset ‘DAY’ and ‘flag’! The ultimate flagellation of this ‘ancient’ Shire County of Somerset by ‘fools’ who masquerade as Honourable Members of Parliament, in a ‘representative’ democracy, some nine representing the former ‘historic’ county, eight Conservative, one Liberal Democrat. History ‘repeating’ itself pace the ‘Balkanisation’ of the once ‘historic’ City & County of Bristol.
A prior correspondent has enlightened to those supposedly the ‘custodians’ of our forebear’s ‘heritage’ from Exmoor in the West to ‘historic’ Bath in the East, coterminous with the diocese of Bath & Wells. West of the River Avon. I give no ‘credence’ to Ian Liddell Grainger MP gaining a ‘chunk’ of East Devon at the expense of Bridgwater, he should look before he leaps and consult with his ‘distinguished’ predecessor, Baron King of Bridgwater CH PC, wholly attuned to this Shire County.
It’s unbelievable the ‘incumbent’ occupier of No 10 acquiescence in this ‘aberration’ as they say ‘born and bred’ in the county. Jenrick MP an ‘apostate’ pace Tower Hamlets ‘imbroglio’ and roll on the envisaged ‘cabinet’ reshuffle long overdue.
Admiral Blakes’ successor’s ‘immortal’ exhortation, resonates, ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN AND WOMAN TO DO THEIR DUTY!
For me, the big disappointment was the decision to abandon the reduction in the number of MPs. But if we have to retain the bloated parliament, it makes sense to rebalance the constituency sizes as demographics change. Unfortunately it is inevitable that this requires new boundaries to be drawn.
While it would be nice to have anomalies such as “Somerton and Frome” corrected, it will be a pity to lose the coterminous boundaries with the ancient county.
However, these are the recommendations of an independent body. It is far from certain that they will get voted through without big changes!