The Somerset Guardian, 4th August 2021

This week, I wrote to the Boundary Commission for England in response to its recommendations for the South-West.

The 2023 Review of Parliamentary constituencies aims to ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is more equal meaning that the number of constituencies in England will increase from 533 to 543. The final submission will be presented to Parliament by July 2023.

I oppose the plans set out for the South-West because of a fundamental flaw in the proposals affecting all counties except Cornwall. It is an error in the base assumption that then has consequences for the proposals affecting Somerset, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Dorset. This is the reference to Avon.

The county of Avon was abolished in 1996 and does not meet any of the conditions set out in rule 5 of schedule 2 of the 1986 Act as amended by the 2020 Act. It is not a local authority nor will it become one under any current proposals. Moreover, it is not any part of current boundaries and it does not create any local ties. Indeed the reverse is true: the former county of Avon was viewed with considerable antipathy by most of its residents.

Unfortunately, this initial assumption by the Commission leads to a seat allocation that ignores real local ties. In the case of Dorset, the Commission refers to the historic, “ceremonial” county under the 1997 Lieutenancies Act, which recognises the importance of historic counties but then ignores the equally important ceremonial counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire.

My aim was not to propose a new scheme, merely to point out that the current scheme fails to meet the requirements of the legislation. If the basis of the Commission’s objectives is fairness then it ought to foster this ethos on to every area to ensure that everyone’s heritage is preserved.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance:

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