Plans to redraw chunks of the North East's political map branded an 'administrative mess' dropped in latest Boundary Commission proposals for MP Westminster constituency seats in Sunderland, South Shields and Jarrow
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Under latest proposals by the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published on Tuesday (November 8), the number of Parliamentary constituencies in the region would be cut from 29 to 27.
The final plans, revised from a previous version unveiled in summer 2021, include a number of key changes that could see residents move into a new constituency – and leave some existing MPs struggling to keep their job.
North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Tony Blair’s former seat of Sedgefield are among the seats potentially destined for the chopping block.
But the BCE has also backtracked on some major changes proposed in Sunderland, which would have seen part of the city added to the Jarrow constituency and another portion hived off to a new Seaham and Peterlee seat – a move branded an “administrative mess” by opponents.
In the commission’s Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tyneside, and County Durham region, the number of constituencies is in line to be cut from 13 to 12.
A major redraw of last summer’s scheme has now proposed:
*Adding Cleadon and East Boldon to the South Shields constituency
*A redraw in Jarrow to include four Gateshead wards - Felling; Pelaw and Heworth; Wardley and Leam Lane; and Windy Nook and Whitehills
*Scrapping plans to split Sunderland across five “disruptive” constituencies
*Keeping Julie Elliott’s Sunderland Central seat in its current form
*Adding the St Anne’s local authority ward to Bridget Phillipson’s Houghton and Sunderland South constituency
*A new Washington constituency which crosses the A1 to take in Birtley and Lamesley, recognising “historical ties”
*Making the Easington seat slightly larger and dropping plans to rename it “Seaham and Peterlee”
Niall Hodson, leader of Sunderland City Council’s Liberal Democrat opposition group, said: “These revised proposals make much more sense for communities across Wearside – keeping all parts of Sunderland in Sunderland constituencies, making sure the whole of Washington town stays together and keeping the Houghton, Hetton and Shiney Row areas together rather than splitting them up.”
Tim Bowden, Secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, revealed almost half of its previous proposals have been changed since last year.
He added: “Last year we published our initial proposals for new constituency boundaries – our first go at what the map should look like.
"We are delighted with the huge number of comments from members of the public on our initial proposals, many which included valuable evidence about local communities.
“Today’s publication is the culmination of months of analysis and 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.”
A new, month-long consultation has been launched to give the public a final say on the proposals, before they are submitted to Parliament by July 2023.
The changes could be enacted by the time of the next general election, which must be held before January 2025.