The 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries in England – Volume one: Report – North East
Our initially proposed Gateshead sub-region was based on the boundaries of the Borough and contained two existing constituencies, Blaydon and Gateshead. Both have electorates below the permitted range, and at present two of the Borough wards, Pelaw and Heworth, and Wardley and Leam Lane, are included in the Jarrow constituency. Jarrow is discussed below. We proposed expanding both of the Blaydon and Gateshead constituencies slightly eastwards, resulting in the sub-region being coterminous with the Borough of Gateshead.
The rest of this sub-region contained nine existing constituencies, and most of the Jarrow and Sedgefield constituencies. Of the existing constituencies, City of Durham, North West Durham, and Sunderland Central are all within the permitted electorate range. The following are all below the range: Bishop Auckland; Easington; Houghton and Sunderland South; Jarrow; North Durham; Sedgefield; South Shields; and Washington and Sunderland West.
When formulating our initial proposals we retained the Sunderland Central constituency unchanged. However, we proposed modifications to all the other constituencies in the subregion. Our proposed South Shields constituency was similar to the existing though now also included the Borough of South Tyneside ward of Cleadon and East Boldon. We proposed that the remaining wards in the Borough of South Tyneside, including the town of Jarrow, be included in a Jarrow and Sunderland West constituency. This constituency included three wards from the City of Sunderland. We proposed a Washington and Sunderland West constituency, which comprised only City of Sunderland wards, including the five wards covering the town of Washington.
Our proposed North Durham constituency was again similar to the existing, though now also included the Burnopfield and Dipton ward. We proposed a North West Durham constituency that had been modified to reflect new local government ward boundaries. We proposed similar modifications to the existing Bishop Auckland constituency but proposed it include the Brandon ward and no longer the Shildon and Dene Valley ward, which we proposed be included in a Newton Aycliffe and Sedgefield constituency. Our proposed Seaham and Peterlee constituency comprised 12 County of Durham wards and the City of Sunderland ward of Doxford. We proposed a City of Durham constituency which included six County of Durham wards, including those covering the City of Durham and three City of Sunderland wards, Copt Hill, Hetton, and Houghton. We noted that, in formulating our initial proposals, the City of Sunderland had been divided between five constituencies.
In response to the consultation on our initial proposals, we received significant support for both our proposed Blaydon and Gateshead constituencies. Opposition was also received, which focused on the knock-on effect across the County Durham, South Tyneside and Sunderland subregion, caused by our use of a Gateshead sub-region.
Our proposed Bishop Auckland and North West Durham constituencies were largely opposed because of the separation of Crook and Tow Law from Willington, which together form the Three Towns Area Action Partnership. One counter proposal received to resolve this did so by creating a detached part of the Bishop Auckland constituency, only accessible through neighbouring constituencies. Another relied on the retention of our Gateshead sub-region.
Our proposed City of Durham constituency was opposed, both in its extension to the east to include wards from Sunderland, where representations detailed the lack of any existing links, and the exclusion of County Durham wards to the south and west, which representations told us share community ties with the city.
Including City of Sunderland wards to create a Jarrow and Sunderland West constituency was opposed by many who saw no connection between these two areas. We also received opposition to our proposed Washington and Sunderland South constituency with respondents concerned that it broke community ties. Our proposal to retain the existing Sunderland Central constituency unchanged was widely supported. Similarly, our proposed South Shields constituency was largely supported.
The proposed Newton Aycliffe and Sedgefield constituency was opposed. Many respondents commented on the Coxhoe ward, outlining that due to its proximity it had links with the City of Durham rather than any similar links to Sedgefield to the south.
We received few comments on our North Durham proposal, perhaps due to the limited change suggested here, the addition of the single ward of Burnopfield and Dipton.
Our initial proposal for Seaham and Peterlee was largely opposed, due to the inclusion of Doxford, an orphan ward from City of Sunderland, in a constituency which is otherwise made up of County Durham wards. Representations outlined that the Doxford ward looks to the City of Sunderland, with which it shared community ties. Some representations also commented on the proposed name of the Seaham and Peterlee constituency, outlining that, given its similarity to the existing Easington constituency, it should retain that name.
In light of the representations received, our Assistant Commissioners recommended that we modify our initial proposals for the North East sub-region.
Our Assistant Commissioners considered that the initial proposals for five constituencies including wards from the City of Sunderland were disruptive to local ties across all except the Sunderland Central constituency. They compared these with the support received for the Blaydon and Gateshead constituencies, and counter proposals to instead divide the Borough of Gateshead between four constituencies and the City of Sunderland between three. Broadly speaking, the choice was to either disrupt Sunderland and Durham, or Gateshead. They concluded that dividing Gateshead in this way would help to reduce the breaking of community ties across Durham, Jarrow, Sunderland, and Washington. They investigated a number of counter proposals received and considered that the statutory factors in the sub-region could best be reflected by splitting a single ward – Trimdon and Thornley – between constituencies.
They therefore recommended: a Blaydon and Consett constituency, which would pair the two towns across the Borough of Gateshead with County Durham; a Gateshead and Whickham constituency, to include three wards around the Whickham area; a Jarrow constituency, to include four Borough of Gateshead wards and seven Borough of South Tyneside wards; a South Shields constituency as initially proposed; and a Washington constituency that comprised seven City of Sunderland wards and two Borough of Gateshead wards, Birtley and Lamesley.
Our Assistant Commissioners proposed to retain a Houghton and Sunderland South constituency unchanged from the existing, other than to additionally include the City of Sunderland St. Anne’s ward. They recommended no change to the Sunderland Central constituency as initially proposed, particularly given this had been largely supported during the consultation.
They recommended: a Bishop Auckland constituency that extended further north than the existing to include the County of Durham wards of Crook, Tow Law, and Weardale. They proposed a City of Durham constituency that was entirely within the County of Durham. They proposed: an Easington constituency extended slightly to its west including part of the Trimdon and Thornley ward; a Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor constituency including a split of the Trimdon and Thornley ward with the Easington constituency, which allowed for the unification of Spennymoor in a single constituency; and a North Durham constituency that was similar to the existing but now also included the Lanchester ward. We agreed with their recommendations. We recognised that, while this pattern divided the Borough of Gateshead between four constituencies, we considered it resulted in a pattern of constituencies that were most closely aligned with the existing configuration and better reflected the community ties evidence received.
In response to the consultation on our revised proposals, we received a mixture of support and opposition to our pattern of constituencies.
Our proposals across the Borough of Gateshead were largely opposed. Our proposed Blaydon and Consett constituency was opposed because of the crossing of local authority boundaries, the lack of links between the two areas, and the inclusion of the Castleside area in our proposed North Durham constituency in spite of its close proximity and links with Consett. Our Gateshead proposal was largely opposed because of its dividing of the town of Gateshead, although there was a small amount of support. Our proposed Jarrow constituency was opposed due to the inclusion of four Gateshead wards with which residents on opposite sides of the borough boundary felt no affinity.
Our proposed South Shields constituency was largely supported, although some respondents considered the configuration divided the Borough of South Tyneside wards of Boldon Colliery, and Cleadon and East Boldon between constituencies. Our proposed Washington constituency received some opposition due to its crossing of local authority boundaries. Some respondents also had concerns that the constituency crossed the A1 road, however, during earlier consultation stages we received evidence of historic community ties crossing the A1. As under our revised proposals the Borough of Gateshead had been divided between four constituencies, we received some opposition to only one of the proposed constituencies including Gateshead in the name, and to Washington not including the name of any other parts of the proposed configuration, such as Birtley, Gateshead, or Sunderland, which were all suggested to be included.
Our Houghton and Sunderland South, and Sunderland Central constituencies were largely supported, with the addition of the St. Anne’s ward to Houghton and Sunderland South noted as a suitable addition.
We received some opposition to our Bishop Auckland proposal which was twofold: the division of the well-liked existing North West Durham constituency into four constituencies and the consequent breaking of community ties; and the separation of the wards of Crook and Tow Law from Willington in the previously mentioned Three Towns Area Action Partnership. There were a small number of calls for the constituency name to be changed to include South and/or West Durham or Weardale, but without any consensus as to what that name should be. Our proposed City of Durham constituency was largely supported, particularly the central core of the constituency, but was both supported and opposed with the addition of the rural wards of Deerness, Esh and Witton Gilbert, and Willington and Hunwick to the west, and opposed because of the inclusion of Coxhoe ward in the Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor constituency. Our Easington constituency was largely supported, apart from a small number of suggestions for it to be renamed East Durham. There was some opposition to the addition of the Lanchester ward in the North Durham constituency, which was otherwise supported.
We noted the representations regarding whether we should revert to our initial proposals for the Blaydon and Gateshead constituencies. We consider that the disruption in the initial proposals to community ties across the boroughs of South Tyneside and Sunderland, and to the City of Durham, is greater than that to the County of Durham and the Borough of Gateshead in our revised proposals. We note that we also received representations supporting our revised pattern of constituencies, with respondents outlining how they better reflected community ties. Having considered the evidence received, we are not recommending any changes to the boundaries of our revised proposals for the North East sub-region. We are persuaded to change the names of three constituencies, including parts of the Borough of Gateshead, to make them more representative of their areas. These are Gateshead Central and Whickham, Jarrow and Gateshead East, and Washington and Gateshead South.
Our final recommendations in this sub-region are therefore for constituencies of: Bishop Auckland; Blaydon and Consett; City of Durham; Easington; Gateshead Central and Whickham; Houghton and Sunderland South; Jarrow and Gateshead East; Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor; North Durham; South Shields; Sunderland Central; and Washington and Gateshead South. These constituencies are composed of the areas listed in Volume two and shown on the maps in Volume three of this report.