Councillors set for a battle against boundary changes

The new Jarrow constituency
The new Jarrow constituency

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

Deputy council leader Alan Kerr and Ed Malcolm urged the Boundary Commission to rethink its controversial proposals – and said residents should also speak out against them.

The new South Shields constituency

The new South Shields constituency

They voiced their concerns after the commission this week recommended switching South Shields’ Simonside and Rekendyke ward to Jarrow, and Boldon Colliery into South Shields.

It would see Labour MP Stephen Hepburn’s Jarrow constituency reach to within a stone’s throw of South Shields town centre.

South Tyneside Council and a number of residents and businesses have voiced opposition during two previous consultations.

Council chiefs say they are now preparing a final submission, demanding the status quo be maintained.

Coun Alan Kerr

Coun Alan Kerr

Coun Kerr said he was disappointed the council’s strong previous representation had not been accepted by the commission.

He added: “We remain of the opinion that to suggest Chichester, Laygate and surrounding areas should be part of Jarrow lacks public support.

“We are encouraged that the commissioner advised in his report summary that his assistant commissioners specially requested him to request further information on the council’s proposals during the next stage of the consultation.

“We shall therefore take the opportunity to prepare a further detailed submission as to why we feel Boldon should remain in the Jarrow constituency and Simonside and Rekendyke in South Shields.

Councillor Ed Malcolm.

Councillor Ed Malcolm.

“We shall be seeking the support of our two Parliamentary representatives and would urge the public to respond during the next stage of this consultation.

“The plans are off the map as far as South Tyneside Council is concerned.”

Coun Ed Malcolm, speaking on behalf of the ward councillors for Simonside and Rekendyke, said: “We are heartened that the commissioners are willing to take further evidence which we will be putting forward.

“However, we also implore our residents to make their views known if they wish to stay in the South Shields constituency.”

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.

Its proposals, being examined by the Boundary Commission, will see the number of constituencies in the North East reduced from 29 to 25.

The commission’s third consultation runs until Monday, December 11, and is the final opportunity for the public to have its say.

Maps of the revised proposals are on display at South Shields and Jarrow town halls until that date.

All previous representations and information about how to respond to the consultation can be viewed at www.bce2018.org.uk.