Sunderland MPs slam boundary change proposals and vow to vote against them
Wearside MPs have slammed possible constituency changes which could come into force in the next few years.
Under plans from the Boundary Commission, some people living in Sunderland wards could end up voting for Jarrow’s MP, while a new Sunderland West constituency could swallow up four wards from the existing Houghton and Sunderland South constituency, as well as taking in the Birtley ward from Gateshead.
How political boundary changes could affect youA new Easington and Houghton constituency could also be created that would take in Copt Hill, Doxford and Houghton, while people living in Hetton would come under the City of Durham constituency.
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has hit out at the possible changes, saying: “The constituency changes, set out in the Boundary Commission’s initial proposals, are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable.
“The data used to create the new constituencies is grossly out-of-date, missing off almost two million people who fell through the gaps from the Government’s botched job of introducing individual voter registration as well as all of those from the registration drive ahead of the EU Referendum.
“The omission of this crucial data has distorted the whole review and we now see a constitutional process based upon unfairness.
“The new constituencies that have been created don’t provide people with improved representation, this is seen specifically in Washington and Sunderland, where there are clear issues for future representation.
“It is extremely disappointing to see that Sunderland will now be split between five constituencies and Washington will be split amongst three, after it was rightly unified into one constituency at the last boundary review.
“It is also concerning to see that one of Sunderland’s biggest employers, Nissan, will not be in a Sunderland constituency.
“There has always been a strong parliamentary connection between Sunderland and Nissan, a connection set to be undermined by this boundary change.
“Sunderland and Washington both have strong identities within our region and this should be reflected within their representation in Parliament, that is why it is deeply saddening to see it diminished within these initial proposals.
“I will work alongside my Labour colleagues in Parliament to oppose these plans and make sure that the Tories pause and look again at this process and ensure that our electors and democracy are not undermined.”
Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson says she will vote against the proposals.
“These initial proposals are complex and it will therefore take some time to understand their full impact on local communities,” said Ms Phillipson.
“As they stand, the city of Sunderland will cover five parliamentary constituencies rather than the current three.
“I remain concerned that the two million people who recently registered to vote in the EU referendum were not included in the numbers used to draw up the proposed boundaries.
“It is also hypocritical for the Government to insist on cutting the number of elected MPs while packing the House of Lords with record levels of unelected peers.
“We are determined to oppose these plans and will vote against them when they are put to the House of Commons.”
Sunderland Liberal Democrat councillor Niall Hodson has also come out against the plans, saying: “Whilst most people can agree that the cost of doing politics should be reduced, it seems absurd that the Government is pushing ahead with a reduction in the number of elected MPs at the same time as continuing to fill the House of Lords with more and more unelected lawmakers.
“That’s why Liberal Democrats are pushing for reform of the House of Lords so that the people who make our laws there are elected by the people - not appointed for life by political leaders.
“Having looked at the Boundary Commitee’s plans, there are some causes for conern - notably that Washington could be split up and be represented by three different MPs instead of one.
“Liberal Democrats will be looking carefully at the plans and coming up with suggestions about how the Boundary Committee can make improvements.”