The 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries in England – Volume one: Report – North East
North of Tyne
Of the nine existing constituencies in North of Tyne, none were within the permitted electorate range. The following existing constituencies all fell below the permitted electorate range: Berwick-upon-Tweed; Blyth Valley; Hexham; Newcastle upon Tyne Central; Newcastle upon Tyne East; Newcastle upon Tyne North; and Wansbeck. The existing constituencies of North Tyneside and Tynemouth were both above the permitted electorate range.
In our initial proposals, we proposed that the existing Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency was expanded southwards to include the town of Morpeth and the Pegswood ward. As a result of the configuration of the constituency, we proposed it be named Berwick and Morpeth. We proposed a Blyth and Ashington constituency, that included both towns and also the areas of Bedlington, Choppington and Newbiggin. We proposed a Hexham constituency that was expanded to include the Callerton & Throckley ward from the City of Newcastle upon Tyne, and the Longhorsley ward from the County of Northumberland.
We also proposed changes to the existing constituencies in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. In our initial proposals we proposed a Newcastle upon Tyne East constituency that was expanded to include the ward of Arthur’s Hill, and all of the Monument and the Dene & South Gosforth wards, which are currently divided between constituencies. Our proposed Newcastle upon Tyne North constituency was reconfigured to the east to include the Killingworth area of the Borough of North Tyneside and no longer included the Callerton & Throckley ward. We proposed a Newcastle upon Tyne West constituency that comprised ten City of Newcastle upon Tyne wards. To the east of the City, we proposed a reconfigured Tynemouth constituency which comprised ten Borough of North Tyneside wards, including the areas of Tynemouth in the east and Wallsend in the west. Our final proposal for the sub-region was a Whitley Bay and Cramlington constituency, that comprised five Borough of North Tyneside wards and nine County of Northumberland wards.
In response to the consultation on the initial proposals, our proposed composition of constituencies across North of Tyne was both supported and opposed.
The boundary between our proposed Berwick and Morpeth, and Hexham constituencies was largely opposed in the Longhorsley ward, with counter proposals suggesting that the ward should be included in full or in part in the Berwick and Morpeth constituency. Respondents cited the close geographic proximity of the village of West Thirston in Longhorsley to the village of Felton in Shilbottle ward to the north. Some respondents also expressed concern at the exclusion of Alnwick from the name of the constituency. Those who made this argument noted that Alnwick is the county town for Northumberland and that it should be included in the constituency name. We also received other alternatives for the name of the constituency, including the proposal to name it North Northumberland.
Our proposed Blyth and Ashington constituency was largely supported for keeping the coastal communities together. However, we received a small amount of opposition to the configuration of this constituency, which sought to include the areas of Bedlington and Choppington in a counter proposal for the Hexham constituency.
The core of our proposed Hexham constituency was supported, but the inclusion of the wards of Longhorsley, and Callerton & Throckley were largely opposed, with a number of counter proposals provided in order to resolve these two issues. Those who opposed the inclusion of the Callerton & Throckley ward in the Hexham constituency said that the ward had community ties to the City of Newcastle and identified that the ward included places associated with the City, such as the airport. However, we also received some support for the inclusion of the Callerton & Throckley ward in the Hexham constituency with respondents citing community ties with Heddon‑on‑the‑Wall.
The five proposed constituencies which included wards from the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and Borough of North Tyneside were largely opposed because of the perceived breaking of community ties and the crossing of borough boundaries. We received opposition to our proposed Whitley Bay and Cramlington constituency, with respondents outlining that Whitley Bay had shared community ties southwards along the coast to Tynemouth, rather than northwards towards Cramlington. We received some support for our proposed Newcastle upon Tyne East and Tynemouth constituencies.
Our Assistant Commissioners considered the evidence received and they were not persuaded to recommend to us changes to the boundaries of the proposed constituencies of Berwick and Morpeth, Blyth and Ashington, and Hexham. They noted the opposition to the inclusion of the Longhorsley ward in the proposed Hexham constituency but they were not persuaded by the counter proposals to include the ward in the Hexham constituency, including those that proposed splitting the ward between the Berwick and Morpeth, and Hexham constituencies.
Further south in the sub-region they were persuaded to propose changes to the initial proposed pattern of constituencies. They considered that evidence had been received to suggest that the initial proposals broke community ties. Having investigated the counter proposals received from respondents the Assistant Commissioners were not completely satisfied that these would resolve all the issues. They had particular concern that the counter proposals that better reflect community ties in the City of Newcastle were at the detriment of breaking community ties in the areas of Bedlington and Choppington. They therefore investigated their own counter proposals which sought to reflect the community identity evidence received. In doing so, they considered that providing the best balance between the statutory factors could be achieved by splitting a number of wards between constituencies. They proposed dividing the Castle ward between a reconfigured Newcastle upon Tyne North constituency and a Cramlington and Killingworth constituency. This allowed Brunswick Village, and Hazelrigg, both of which are divided between the boroughs of Newcastle upon Tyne and North Tyneside, to not be divided. They proposed for Whitley Bay to be included in a modified Tynemouth constituency, which they considered reflected the community identity evidence received and better reflected the configuration of the existing constituency. They proposed that the Riverside ward be divided at the significant boundary that is the A19 between the constituencies of Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend, and Tynemouth. Finally, they proposed that the Kingston Park South & Newbiggin Hall ward be divided at the A696 between Newcastle upon Tyne Central and West, and Newcastle upon Tyne North.
Having considered the evidence, we agreed with their proposal. We considered the alternative configuration of constituencies they proposed better reflected community ties and in some cases more closely resembled the existing pattern of constituencies.
In response to the consultation on the revised proposals, we continued to receive opposition to the inclusion of the Longhorsley ward in the Hexham constituency rather than the Berwick and Morpeth constituency. We again received representations on the name of the Berwick and Morpeth constituency, with respondents suggesting that the name for this constituency should either include Alnwick or be changed to North Northumberland. We received evidence that the village and civil parish of Longhorsley lies on the road between Pegswood and Shilbottle wards, both of which are proposed to remain with the Berwick and Morpeth constituency. We received further evidence that West Thirston, part of the Thirston civil parish, forms a single community with Felton, joined by two bridges across the River Coquet, and that they share a church, school, community groups and shops.
We received several counter proposals, one of which would have required us to allocate the Bedlington and Choppington areas to Hexham, which we had already considered and rejected as a possible solution to the orphan ward of Callerton & Throckley being transferred from a Newcastle upon Tyne constituency into Hexham. Another would have split the Castle ward between Hexham, and Newcastle upon Tyne North, dividing both Brunswick Village and Hazelrigg. We received a further counter proposal that suggested swapping the entire Longhorsley ward for Rothbury between the Berwick and Morpeth, and Hexham constituencies, but found that, as the bulk of the population of Rothbury lies in the eastern side of that ward, and is separated from the Hexham constituency by the Northumberland National Park, this was not sufficiently compliant with the statutory factors. A further counter proposal to include two polling districts from Longhorsley ward in Berwick and Morpeth, B38LON and B44THI, the civil parishes of Longhorsley, and Thirston, would allow us to retain the rest of the revised proposals.
We received a small amount of opposition to the Blyth and Ashington proposal, from those concerned about the breaking of ties between Blyth and the Cramlington and Lynemouth areas. However, we again received support for this proposed constituency.
Our revised proposal for Cramlington and Killingworth was opposed due to the crossing of the boundary between the County of Northumberland and Borough of North Tyneside, and the consequent breaking of community ties across the existing Blyth Valley constituency. However, no counter proposal was received during the consultation on the revised proposals that suggested an alternative configuration of the constituency.
We continued to receive some opposition to the inclusion of the Callerton & Throckley ward in the Hexham constituency, with respondents considering this broke community ties with Newcastle upon Tyne, and the crossing of the local authority boundary, but the counter proposals to resolve this caused the breaking of community ties between Bedlington and Choppington, and Blyth and Ashington.
We received further opposition to our revised proposals across the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and Borough of North Tyneside, with the main issue being the crossing of local authority boundaries. Those who sought to formulate a different pattern of constituencies in this part of the sub-region generally submitted counter proposals identical to those received during earlier consultations, or supported reverting to the initial proposals. These included linking Whitley Bay and Cramlington to form a constituency, or including the areas of Bedlington and Choppington in the Hexham constituency.
Having considered the evidence received, we are not persuaded to amend the boundaries of our proposed constituencies in North of Tyne. We do consider it appropriate to amend one of the constituency names.
We have reflected on the evidence received in regards to Longhorsley and the arguments submitted that our revised proposals divide community ties in this area. We have again considered the counter proposals received and are not persuaded to adopt the configurations that transfer whole wards, as we consider that doing so breaks community ties and also does not reflect the geography of the area, particularly that of Northumberland National Park. We consider that the suggested split of the Longhorsley ward to reflect community ties, while avoiding significant changes to the proposed pattern of constituencies in the sub-region, is a local issue, with no wider benefit to our configuration of constituencies across the sub-region, and we therefore conclude that this would not be appropriate. Therefore, we propose that the Longhorsley ward should be included in the Hexham constituency. Furthermore, we have decided to rename the Berwick and Morpeth constituency North Northumberland. We consider this name better reflects the geographic area of the constituency.
We are not persuaded to modify our revised proposals in the remainder of the sub-region. We consider that counter proposals submitted would not better reflect the statutory factors. Our final recommendations in this sub-region are therefore for constituencies of: Blyth and Ashington; Cramlington and Killingworth; Hexham; Newcastle upon Tyne Central and West; Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend; Newcastle upon Tyne North; North Northumberland; and Tynemouth. These constituencies are composed of the areas listed in Volume two and shown on the maps in Volume three of this report.