A prominent borough businessman has hit out at controversial plans to shake-up South Tyneside’s parliamentary boundaries, vowing: “We will not be moved.”
Vic Young pledged to fight to ensure his car dealership – along with thousands of voters - stays in the South Shields parliamentary area.
He fears a proposed transfer of South Shields’ Simonside and Rekendyke council ward into the neighbouring Jarrow constituency, strikes at the heart of democracy.
The recommendation, by the Boundary Commission for England, are out for consultation, would see Jarrow reach almost to South Shields town centre, via the riverside.
Mr Young branded the plan “flawed and deeply unpopular”.
He said: “The commission’s proposals are a backward step for democracy and should not go ahead. I suspect they could be the start of a process that will see South Tyneside’s two MPs reduced to one.
“People should be represented by someone close to them and that would not happen if Jarrow and South Shields become one parliamentary constituency.
“I hope the commission rethinks its plans.”
Mr Young, who employs 90 people at his Tyne Dock-based business, has made his views known to the BCE – one of hundreds of South Tyneside residents to do so.
South Shields’ Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck has also voiced her concerns, as has South Tyneside Council.
The BCE has been tasked with reducing the number of English constituencies from 533 to 501.
Its remit is for every constituency to have an electorate no smaller than 71,031 and no larger than 78,507.
Under its plan, the Boldon Colliery and Cleadon and Boldon wards - currently in the Jarrow voting district – would move into South Shields.
Jarrow Labour MP Stephen Hepburn would also inherit the Gateshead wards of Felling, High Fell, Pelaw, and Windy Nook and Whitehills.
Rekendyke and Simonside councillor Ed Malcolm said: “There is very strong opposition to this. People in this ward understand that commission has been tasked with redrawing the boundaries, but they don’t understand how one so rooted in South Shields can be moved to Jarrow.
“The good thing is that the commissioners have acknowledged opposition to their proposal and have invited further discussion.”
Retired nurse Pat Smith, 79, of St Mark’s Court, South Shields, said: “I’m from South Shields and have voted since I was 21, but I would seriously consider never voting again if I was moved into Jarrow.
“I’ve nothing against Jarrow, but I’m a Sanddancer and always have been and always will be. I wouldn’t feel represented by a Jarrow MP.”
Retail worker Judith Taylor, 58, of Simonside Hall, South Shields, added: “I’ve taken a petition around the ward and most people feel strongly that they want to stay part of South Shields.”
The BCE’s third and final public consultation closes on Monday, December 11.
Maps of the revised proposals are on display at both South Shields and Jarrow Town Halls until Monday 11 December 2017.
Previous representations and information about how to respond can be found on the interactive Boundary Commission’s consultation website at www.bce2018.org.uk