Mixed reaction from Sunderland MPs to proposed boundary changes
Proposals to change the boundaries of some Parliamentary constituencies on Wearside have drawn a mixed response from MPs.
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) is carrying out a review of all Parliamentary constituencies and will make final proposals to the Government in September 2018.
The proposals, which will see the number of North East seats reduced by four to 25, include:
* Sunderland Central constituency, which Julie Elliott serves as MP, remaining unchanged.
* Washington and Sunderland West constituency, served by Sharon Hodgson MP, to include the Sandhill ward.
* A new Houghton and Seaham constituency that would take in wards represented by both Bridget Phillipson in Houghton and Sunderland South and Grahame Morris in Easington.
* A new City of Durham and Easington constituency that would include Horden, Murton, Peterlee and Easington.
Speaking about the plans, Ms Phillipson said: “These proposals differ significantly from those put forward last year.
“It does appear that that the Boundary Commission has listened to the many local people who raised concerns around the initial proposals, particularly on the number of places in which the city of Sunderland would be split.
“That said, I remain deeply concerned about the government’s flawed approach towards these reforms.
“The Government has forced the Boundary Commission to ignore important geographical, cultural and administrative boundaries and conventions when drawing up the new boundaries.
“The proposals are also based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register that omits a considerable number of eligible voters, including many who voted in the EU referendum and this year’s General Election.
“It is also wrong for ministers to insist on cutting the number of elected MPs while packing the House of Lords with record levels of unelected peers.”
Mrs Hodgson meanwhile said: “The new boundary proposals set out in the Boundary Commission’s revised proposals are fantastic and I am delighted that the campaigning by myself and many Washington residents has proven worthwhile and seen the town’s importance recognised by the Boundary Review, after their shocking decision to split the town across three constituencies.
“At the time, it was deeply disappointing to see this important town’s Parliamentary representation watered down, including no name recognition in any of the three proposed constituencies.
“The people of Washington are very proud of their area and it is important that their concerns were raised; that is why I went to the Commission’s public meeting last November and called for the town to remain united within one constituency.
“The new changes now keep the Washington and Sunderland West constituency completely intact, with the inclusion of the Sandhill area of Sunderland, and maintains the long and proud heritage of the two areas."
In its proposed report, the BCE says: “A revised Houghton and Seaham constituency was suggested by the assistant commissioners that included the wards of Dawdon, Deneside, and Seaham to compensate for the inclusion of the Sandhill ward in the Washington and Sunderland West constituency that they agreed should be revised.
“The A690 and A19 roads were considered to be accessible transport routes that would serve the entire constituency.
“They were also aware that Dawdon, Deneside, and Seaham look towards the Easington and Murton wards, but numerical constraints meant that these wards could not also be included in the same constituency.
“We agree with these recommendations.”
The proposals will now be subject to an eight-week consultation, which runs until December 11.
People are encouraged to visit www.bce2018.org.uk to air their views or write to 35 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BQ.