Controversial plan to move part of South Shields into Jarrow in electoral boundary shake-up is scrapped

South Tyneside planned boundary changes petition.'Coun Ed Malcolm
South Tyneside planned boundary changes petition.'Coun Ed Malcolm

Controversial proposals to move part of South Shields into the Jarrow constituency as part of electoral boundary changes have been scrapped due to ‘compelling’ evidence.

South Tyneside councillors had previously come out fighting against planned boundary changes that would fundamentally alter the fabric of the borough’s Parliamentary constituencies.

Proposed boundary changes for South Shields and Jarrow

Proposed boundary changes for South Shields and Jarrow

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has now carried out a review of all Parliamentary constituencies and has made its final proposals to the Government.

Changes previously recommended switching South Shields’ Simonside and Rekendyke ward to Jarrow, and Boldon Colliery into South Shields.

South Tyneside Council deputy leader Alan Kerr and colleague Ed Malcolm had urged the Boundary Commission to rethink its controversial proposals – and said residents should also speak out against them.

And opposition to the changes was taken into account ahead of the final proposals published this week.

Stephen Hepburn

Stephen Hepburn

Instead, the Bede ward will be divided with the Brockley Whins section of the ward included in the South Shields constituency.

The report states: “We considered that persuasive evidence had been received that supported the inclusion of the Simonside and Rekendyke ward in the South Shields constituency and the Boldon Colliery ward in the Jarrow constituency.

“Our investigations indicated that resolving this issue by transferring whole wards between constituencies would require changes to existing constituencies — constituencies that had been supported — or the division of Gateshead town centre.

“We therefore considered again the evidence regarding the breaking of local ties between Simonside and Rekendyke ward and the rest of South Shields constituency, as well as the division of the Bede ward between the South Shields and Jarrow constituencies.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck

“We considered that the additional evidence that we had invited and received was compelling and we decided, as suggested in representations, that the Bede ward should be split, with the Brockley Whins area of the ward (polling district LC) included in the South Shields constituency.”

The proposals, still subject to approval in Parliament, would see the north east lose four seats, going from 29 to 25 MPs. However, South Tyneside would retain its two seats, Jarrow and South Shields, currently held by Labour’s Stephen Hepburn and Emma Lewell-Buck respectively.

The government is seeking to reduce the number of constituencies in England from 533 to 501.

It wants every constituency to have an electorate that is no smaller than 71,031 and no larger than 78,507.