The Boundary Commission for England is looking at the best way to draw the boundaries of your constituency, and it needs your help.
Sam Hartley, Secretary to the Commission, explains: “Parliament has asked us, as an independent and impartial public organisation, to review all the constituency boundaries in England. As part of this we have to reduce the number of constituencies from 533 to 501; and to make the number of electors in each constituency more equal. These two rules mean that wide scale change will happen.”
At the moment, the number of electors in the smallest constituency in England is around 55,000; whilst the largest on the mainland is nearly 95,000. The aim is to get every constituency roughly equal, that’s between 71,000 and 78,000 electors in each (there’s an exception to that rule for the Isle of Wight).
Sam continued: “You can get a feel of the challenge we face if you imagine the country as a jigsaw with 533 different sized pieces. First, we glue them all together, and then cut them into a new jigsaw of 501 pieces, all roughly the same size. Sounds easy? But before we cut them up again, we try to make it as much like the first jigsaw as we can, taking into account rivers, railways and roads running through it.
“We want to get it right, so we also ask the public three times what they think of it, to make sure we’re taking into account what areas local communities visit and use – basically what’s important to you. It’s a significant challenge.”
And that’s where you come in. In September, the Commission published its first set of proposals – a full map of the new parliamentary constituencies. You can see them on its consultation site at www.bce2018.org.uk and compare your proposed new constituency with your existing one.
The Commission wants people to tell it what they think about the proposals. Do they best reflect your local community – for instance are the shops, community centres, meeting points and clubs you use in the same constituency as where you live?
You have until 5 December 2016 to comment on the initial proposals, either through the website or, if you enjoy public speaking, by attending a public hearing – we’ve already held a number of hearings across the country but there are more in November (you can find out when and where these are taking place as well as how to book a slot to speak on our website). There will also be two further opportunities to have your say in 2017.
So now it’s over to you – go online at www.bce2018.org.uk to have your say, and help shape the new Parliamentary constituencies in England; and don’t forget to follow the Commission on twitter @BCE2018 to get the latest updates!