The Boundary Commission for England is currently undertaking a review of parliamentary constituency boundaries in England 2023 and have published their initial proposals.
Tim Bowden, Secretary to the Boundary Commission for England said:
“Today marks the start of our work to review the constituency boundaries in England. Parliament has set strict rules on greater equality of electorate size between the new constituencies - these rules and the increase in total number of constituencies in England mean that there is likely to be a large degree of change across the country.“
Once we publish our initial proposals in the summer, we will need the help of residents in all regions to ensure that our proposals take account of local ties and best reflect the geography on the ground. Everyone’s views will help us recommend a well considered and practical set of new constituency boundaries in England.”
Originally, by an Act of 2019, it was proposed that the review would involve reducing the number of constituencies from 650 to 600. However, the current Conservative Government have removed this requirement and the review will retain the 650 constituencies but seek to equalise elector numbers more evenly between seats.
They have a target of 73,401 electors, plus nor minus 5% in each constituency.
Initial proposals have now been published by the Commission and are available to view on their website. The Liberal Democrats are intending to respond to the proposals on a Regional Basis and we will be part of the South Western Region response on which local parties are being been consulted.
The proposals, in so far as they effect the current Christchurch Parliamentary Constituency, are minimal. The Commission propose only to to move a small section of the current Constituency to the east of Wimborne into the Mid Dorset and North Poole Constituency and replace it with adding a small section of what was part of the North Dorset Constituency, north of Ferndown in the area of Three Legged Cross.
The net result will be to increase the elector numbers in the Constituency to 71,598 which is on the low side of the target of 73,401 but within the plus or minus 5% guidance. The view of the Executive Committee is that the changes make no appreciable difference to our chances of winning the seat and we are inclined not to challenge the Commission's proposals. However, the Review does provide an opportunity for us to reconsider the naming of Constituencies and we are planning to propose that our Constituency name becomes "Christchurch and East Dorset", rather than simply "Christchurch" as it is now. This we believe more properly reflects the fact that only 5 of our 10 Constituency Wards are within the Christchurch boundary and the other 5 are in the area that used to be known as East Dorset.
Members comments on this proposal would be welcome.
Overall Lib Dem HQ have done an analysis which suggests, based on the current Commission proposals nationally, the Conservatives would be the major gainers and Labour potentially the greatest losers, with us having possibly marginal gains. Our main areas of concern are in the west of the region where we need to protect seats in Bath and seek to improve our chances in other areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Our best chance of success in Dorset is in the Mid Dorset and North Poole Constituency which is considered to have been marginally improved in the proposals.
The first stage of the Consultation process ends on 2nd August when our initial Regional response will be input. The next stage in the process will be early in 2022 when any revised proposals will be put out to public hearings and the Commission will have considered any further submissions by late 2022. The expectation then is that in the first half of 2023 and before 1st July, the Commission will report the final proposals to The House Speaker, after which they will immediately come into law.. It is currently anticipated that the Conservatives would then be likely to call a snap General Election in the autumn of 2023!!