The 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries in England – Volume one: Report – Eastern
The Eastern region currently has 58 constituencies. Of these constituencies, 25 have electorates within the permitted range. The electorates of seven constituencies currently fall below the range, while the electorates of 26 are above. Our proposals increase the number of constituencies in the region by three, to 61.
The Eastern region comprises the three unitary authority areas of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton; the county council area of Cambridgeshire, and the unitary authority area of Peterborough; the county council area of Essex, and the unitary authority areas of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock; and the county council areas of Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk 185. We appointed two Assistant Commissioners for the Eastern region – Jane Kilgannon and David Brown QFSM – to assist us with the analysis of the representations received during the first two consultation periods. This included chairing public hearings, which were held in the region in order to hear oral evidence directly from the public. The dates and locations of these hearings were:
In formulating our initial proposals, we noted that the electorate of the Eastern region of 4,482,127 results in it being entitled to 61 constituencies, an increase of three. We then considered how this number of constituencies could be split across the region.
We noted that Cambridgeshire’s electorate of 591,247 results in a mathematical entitlement to 8.06 constituencies. We therefore decided to allocate the county eight constituencies, an increase of one, and treated it as a sub-region. Similarly, we noted that the electorate of Norfolk of 675,778 results in a mathematical entitlement to 9.21 constituencies. We therefore decided to allocate nine constituencies to Norfolk, the same as the existing allocation, and treat it as a sub-region.
The combined electorate of the unitary authorities in Bedfordshire is 467,322, which results in the area being mathematically entitled to 6.37 constituencies, meaning it is not possible to consider Bedfordshire as a stand-alone sub-region. We therefore considered how it could be combined with a neighbouring county to form a sub-region. Hertfordshire has an electorate of 841,457, resulting in a mathematical entitlement to 11.47 constituencies. While our investigations noted that it was possible to consider Hertfordshire as its own sub-region, in practical terms it would be very challenging to formulate a pattern of constituencies that best reflected the statutory factors. We therefore proposed combining Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire into one sub-region in our initial proposals, allocating to it 18 constituencies, an increase of one.
Essex has an electorate of 1,348,788, resulting in a mathematical entitlement to 18.38 constituencies, meaning Essex could be considered as a sub-region on its own. We identified, however, that Suffolk, with an electorate of 557,535 had a mathematical entitlement to 7.60 which meant it could not form a stand-alone sub-region. In our initial proposals we therefore decided to combine Essex and Suffolk into one sub-region, to which we allocated 26 constituencies, an increase of one.
The use of the sub-regions outlined above was largely supported during the consultation on the initial proposals. We did receive some objections to the split of sub-regions with alternative arrangements suggested as:
a sub-region which comprised the areas of Norfolk and Suffolk, resulting in Essex as a stand-alone sub-region
a single sub-region which comprised all of Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk.
In formulating our revised proposals we considered that no persuasive evidence had been received to propose an alternative sub-region comprising all of Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, particularly as it was unnecessary to propose a sub-region that comprised three counties. However, we were persuaded by the evidence received to adopt an alternative sub-region of Norfolk and Suffolk, resulting in Essex forming a stand-alone sub-region. We considered this configuration of sub-regions allowed for improvements to the initial proposals in respect of the statutory factors.
In response to our revised proposals, we received some suggestions that we should revert to the sub-regions of the initial proposals. However, we consider that we did not receive any further evidence that would justify the use of alternative sub-regions to those we adopted in our revised proposals. Therefore, the sub-regions we propose as part of the final recommendations are: