Jarrow and Sunderland West: Plan to merge Jarrow constituency with parts of Sunderland as North East faces losing two MPs
The Boundary Commission for England has published its initial proposals to redraw constituencies across the country, to ensure that they are more equally balanced in terms of voter numbers.
By law, the commission is required to draw up seats with 69,724 to 77,062 electors – a condition which it said meant that widespread change was “inevitable”.
In total, the North East will drop from 29 seats in the House of Commons to 27.
The proposals include keeping the South Shields constituency name but transferring the Cleadon and East Boldon ward to the seat currently occupied by Emma Lewell-Buck.
But the main change which will raise eyebrows are the proposals for Kate Osborne’s Jarrow constituency, which would be changed to include parts of Sunderland.
Jarrow currently includes the Gateshead wards of Pelaw and Heworth, and Wardley and Leam Lane, which would transfer out into a new Gateshead constituency.
In the report, the Boundary Commission states Jarrow, with an electorate of 65,232, will have to gain electors from the south, including the wards of Castle, Redhill and St. Anne’s from Sunderland West.
It reads: “We propose that Jarrow is renamed Jarrow and Sunderland West, to better reflect the new composition of the constituency. Although we appreciate this is not an ideal arrangement, we noted Jarrow’s links to Sunderland via the A19 road which runs north/south, and that this proposal presented greater advantages than the alternatives of crossing the River Tyne, or taking wards from South Shields, due to the unique local identities of the Jarrow and South Shields communities.
"A possible alternative option was considered for Jarrow which instead gains three Washington wards: Washington North, Washington South and Washington West.
"However we consider the links in this configuration were comparably weaker: for instance, the A194(M) road connecting Jarrow and Washington must cross through our proposed Gateshead constituency.
"Our proposed Jarrow and Sunderland West constituency allows for a relatively unchanged South Shields constituency and the retention of all the Washington wards in a single constituency.”
According to the Boundary Commission, only six of the North East’s current constituencies are within the permitted electorate range, 21 constituencies currently fall below the 5% limit and the electorates of just two constituencies are above the 5% limit.
The North East region comprises 1,952,999 electors, giving it a mathematical entitlement to 26.61 constituencies.
The commission said a statutory consultation period of eight weeks is now underway, when anyone can give their views on the proposals.
There are two further rounds of public consultation.
MPs are not supposed to comment directly on the proposals at present, but Ms Osborne has posted about the issue on her Facebook page.
Outlining the proposals, she added: “The Boundary Commission are inviting the public to view and provide feedback on the proposed boundaries as part of an eight-week consultation process.
“Members of the public are encouraged to visit www.bcereviews.org.uk to view maps showing the proposed new boundaries and provide feedback before the consultation closes on 2 August 2021.”
Ms Lewell-Buck posted on Twitter: “Here is the @BCEReviews ‘s proposal for our constituency of South Shields.