SW Beds boundary changes up for discussion

boundary changes
boundary changes

Bedfordshire’s MPs could find themselves with new wards as the consultation into boundary changes opened on Tuesday.

The county currently has six constituencies, which will remain, although boundaries are set to change to ensure a relatively equal number of voters in each.

Launching its consultation the Boundary Commission for England said: “In our initial proposals, we noted that the 439,574 electorate of the ceremonial County of Bedfordshire, comprising the unitary authorities of Luton, Bedford and Central Bedfordshire, resulted in an allocation of 5.9 constituencies.

“With six whole constituencies, the average electorate of the constituencies in Bedfordshire would be 73,262. Although towards the lower end of the permitted electorate range, we considered that it would be possible to create six whole constituencies without any need for the county to be grouped with another county or counties. We therefore decided to treat Bedfordshire as a sub-region in its own right in the construction of constituencies.

“Among the county-wide counter-proposals, it was noted that the Conservative Party supported only one of our proposed constituencies (North East Bedfordshire), proposing ‘minor changes’ to the others, whereas the Labour Party supported our proposals in their entirety.”

Under the new proposals, South West Bedfordshire will gain Aspley and Woburn despite proposals from the then MP for Bedford Richard Fuller at a public hearing in Luton earlier this year, that they should be in the Mid Bedfordshire constituency.

“Our assistant commissioners noted that it would not be possible to also transfer this ward to Mid Bedfordshire from South West Bedfordshire in addition to the Barton-le-Clay ward without further consequential knock-on effects elsewhere,” said the Commission.

Member of Parliament for South West Bedfordshire, Andrew Selous, who spoke on day one at the public hearing in Luton, welcomed the retention of the town of Dunstable in the South West Bedfordshire constituency, but he objected to the inclusion of the Caddington ward in Luton South, highlighting the connection of local villages, and schools in particular, with Dunstable.

The Commission says in its report: “Our assistant commissioners noted that, apart from the issue of Houghton Regis, very little comment was received regarding our proposed South West Bedfordshire constituency and that there was support for the continued inclusion of the towns of Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard in the constituency.

“In view of our proposed changes to the Mid Bedfordshire constituency, no change to the two Luton constituencies (except the name change of Luton North and Houghton Regis), and its location in the south of the county, our assistant commissioners recommended that no further changes be made to the South West Bedfordshire constituency”.

The consultation is now open until 11 December 2017.

> To find out more and have your say go to https://www.bce2018.org.uk/node/6484