South Tyneside’s two parliamentary constituencies are set to expand – with thousands of voters switching seats - despite local opposition to national reform proposals.
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has today confirmed it wants to grow Labour MP Stephen Hepburn’s Jarrow constituency westwards with the addition of four wards in Gateshead.
More controversially, it is advocating switching the Simonside and Rekendyke ward in South Shields into Jarrow – a move opposed by South Tyneside Council and others.
The South Shields constituency, represented by Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck, will grow through the addition of the Boldon Colliery, and Cleadon and Boldon wards, both currently part of the Jarrow voting area.
If the proposals go ahead, the Jarrow constituency will include the Gateshead wards of Felling, High Fell, Pelaw, and Windy Nook and Whitehills.
An initial plan to also include the Sunderland wards of Castle, Redhill, and Washington North, has been scrapped.
Announcing its recommendations, the BCE admitted its proposal for Simonside and Rekendyke, and Boldon Colliery, has been largely opposed.
To compensate, its assistant commissioners considered splitting Jarrow’s Bede ward, with part moving into South Shields.
However, they decided there was neither ‘exceptional and compelling’ evidence for it – and scrapped the idea.
The BCE has published its proposals for the new Parliamentary constituency boundaries as it opens its third and final consultation, which runs until December 11.
It has been asked to make independent recommendations in response to a decision by Parliament to reduce the number of constituencies in the UK to 600 from 650.
The shake-up aims to ensure the number of electors in each constituency is no smaller than 71,031 and no larger than 78,507.
An initial 12-week public consultation was held in last autumn, with a second in the spring.
Over 25,000 responses were received, leading the BCE to revise over half its initial proposals.
Following this third and final consultation, the Boundary Commissioners will consider all the evidence submitted throughout the process.
They will then decide on their final recommendations before submitting them to Parliament in September 2018.
The BCE’s plans can be viewed at www.bce2018.org.uk.
All public comments so far received are also published.