Tuesday, 22 November 2016

My alternative constituencies: West Mercia

I start the West Midlands section of my series of alternative constituencies with the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire, which together form a small region of their own that is rather distant from the main West Midlands; these three counties, sometimes known as West Mercia, are to the West Midlands what the Thames Valley is to the rest of South East England, and are certainly very different in character than the 'Greater Birmingham' conurbation, Staffordshire, or Warwickshire.

For the most part, the Boundary Commission's initial proposals for this small region are right on the ball generally, except that Evesham does not need to be linked with any part of Warwickshire in any way. Given that the current Bromsgrove constituency is in quota I was tempted to oppose the BCE's view and keep it unchanged. However, nearby Redditch needs to expand, and realistically it can only expand eastwards due to the lack of any available usable road links into the Wychavon district, which is quite badly made. Droitwich should have been paired with Bromsgrove in terms of local authorities, because its strongest connections are to Bromsgrove and to Worcester (Droitwich was part of the Worcester constituency from 1950 to 1983). Droitwich Spa certainly has no proper connection to Evesham at all. I therefore fully approve of Bromsgrove & Droitwich.

I sadly have not been able to find a means of saving the North Herefordshire constituency, formerly known as Leominster (which is still its most prominent town) due to the fact Herefordshire needs two cross-county constituencies instead of one due to Shropshire not being able to avoid having a cross-county constituency itself under current electorate numbers. However, some tweaks in Shropshire can be made to leave Shrewsbury unchanged and to make sure there is more coherence in the cross-county constituencies. Also, Wyre Forest should really be left unchanged (except in name terms; the Wyre Forest extends partly into Shropshire as well and the area is clearly dominated by the towns of Kidderminster and Stourport-on-Severn), given that it is coterminous with the local government area, rather rare for an existing constituency. Malvern & Ledbury should also contain no part of Mid Worcestershire (as the BCE has erroneously recommended)-it does not need that.

My alternative constituencies for the West Mercia area thus look like this:


North Herefordshire is abolished.
Bridgnorth & Wellington succeeds The Wrekin; it extends outside The Wrekin hence the name change.
Ludlow & Leominster succeeds Ludlow.
Hereford succeeds Hereford & South Herefordshire; the 'South Herefordshire' part is not needed in the constituency name especially as the Hereford constituency has included Ross-on-Wye since 1918 and in any case that district no longer exists.
Malvern & Ledbury succeeds West Worcestershire.
Bromsgrove & Droitwich succeeds Bromsgrove.
Evesham succeeds Mid Worcestershire and resembles the 1950-1997 South Worcestershire constituency (minus Malvern, of course).
Oswestry has the same boundaries as the current North Shropshire; Oswestry clearly dominates the constituency.
Shrewsbury has the same boundaries as the current Shrewsbury & Atcham; the Atcham moniker was never needed at all since Atcham is in fact a small village and the Shrewsbury constituency has not changed in composition in nearly 100 years.
Kidderminster & Stourport(-on-Severn) has the same boundaries as the current Wyre Forest constituency; see my notes above on why a name change is appropriate. Given the size of Stourport-on-Severn in relation to the constituency and therefore the district of Wyre Forest, I feel it is not fair to merely revert to the old name of Kidderminster even though Kidderminster has nearly treble the population of Stourport.

Next in this series: Staffordshire.






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