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The 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries in England – Volume one: Report – South East


Initial proposals

  1. Only one existing constituency in Buckinghamshire, Chesham and Amersham, is within the permitted electorate range, the remaining six are all above the permitted range. As new local government arrangements for Buckinghamshire were approved shortly before the commencement of the review, the electoral divisions used for the review were those of the now defunct Buckinghamshire County Council. As these electoral divisions were a placeholder arrangement, and their shapes and electorate sizes are particularly large, we took a pragmatic approach towards the splitting of wards in Buckinghamshire.
  2. The City of Milton Keynes was not affected by changes to local government arrangements in Buckinghamshire; however, it is not possible to propose a whole number of constituencies coterminous with the local authority boundaries. Therefore, without crossing regional boundaries, it was necessary to propose a constituency which contained parts of both the Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire unitary authorities – our initial proposal was for a Buckingham and Bletchley constituency containing four wards from each. We divided the remainder of the Milton Keynes unitary authority into two constituencies – Milton Keynes, which comprised the core urban area of the city, and Newport Pagnell, which comprised more rural and suburban areas to the north and west.
  3. As our initial proposals allocated eight constituencies to Buckinghamshire, an increase of one on the existing allocation, it was necessary for us to propose a constituency without an obvious predecessor. We considered that the best way to accommodate this additional constituency was to propose a large rural constituency spanning central Buckinghamshire, which we called Princes Risborough. As we proposed that this constituency include the Ridgeway East, Ridgeway West, and Wendover, Halton and Stoke Mandeville wards, which are currently part of the Aylesbury constituency, we proposed that the Aylesbury constituency be reoriented to the north, to include the wards of Ivinghoe and Wing.
  4. Our proposals for Aylesbury and Princes Risborough meant that we could retain the remaining three constituencies in Buckinghamshire with only minimal changes. We proposed a Marlow and South Buckinghamshire constituency which was changed from the existing Beaconsfield constituency only by the transfer of the Beaconsfield ward to Chesham and Amersham (though, for obvious reasons, it was necessary to amend the name of this constituency). Similarly, the proposed High Wycombe constituency differed from the existing Wycombe constituency only in the transfer of the Hazlemere ward to Chesham and Amersham, and a small amount of change to realign to the boundary of the West Wycombe ward; however, again, we decided to change the name to reflect the largest settlement in this constituency, rather than the defunct local authority district.
  5. With the inclusion of the Beaconsfield and Hazlemere wards, it was not possible to retain the existing Chesham and Amersham constituency otherwise unchanged. In order to minimise disruption, we decided to transfer the Great Missenden and Chiltern Ridges wards to the proposed Princes Risborough constituency; however, in the latter case, we divided the ward to retain an area of central Chesham in our proposed Chesham and Amersham constituency.
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Consultation on the initial proposals

  1. Our proposed Buckingham and Bletchley constituency was mostly opposed during the consultation on the initial proposals; however, the majority of these representations were opposed to any constituency containing parts of both Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. Those that acknowledged the need for such a constituency broadly supported the pairing of Buckingham with Bletchley, though we did receive counter proposals which suggested using wards in the west of Milton Keynes instead.
  2. The boundaries of the two constituencies which we proposed wholly within the City of Milton Keynes were generally supported; however, our proposed names were not. Newport Pagnell in particular was considered to be unreflective of the full extent of this constituency, with the most commonly suggested alternative being to retain the existing name of Milton Keynes North. Supporters of this alternative acknowledged that this would necessitate a change to the name of our proposed Milton Keynes constituency, and again stated that the existing name of Milton Keynes South would be suitable.
  3. The proposed Aylesbury constituency received comparatively few representations; however, the inclusion of the Ivinghoe and Wing wards was generally well supported. Some representations expressed concern that closely connected settlements, such as Berryfields to the north, and Stoke Mandeville to the south, were excluded from this constituency.
  4. There was general dissatisfaction with our proposals for Princes Risborough. Although some responses were supportive, and most counter proposals accepted that this was broadly the right area to accommodate the additional constituency, there was concern at the lack of a community of interest in this constituency, particularly from residents at its extremities. Our proposed split of the Chiltern Ridges ward was particularly unpopular, with residents in this ward arguing that it should be included in its entirety in Chesham and Amersham.
  5. The inclusion of Hazlemere in Chesham and Amersham prompted a mixed response, and we received several counter proposals suggesting alternative constituencies for this ward – including Princes Risborough, in exchange for the remainder of the Chiltern Ridges ward, and Wycombe, in exchange for the Tylers Green and Loudwater ward, though neither of these counter proposals attracted more than modest support.
  6. In the south of our proposed Chesham and Amersham constituency, the inclusion of the Beaconsfield ward was unpopular, as our proposals divided the Old Town (which is in the Gerrards Cross ward) from the majority of Beaconsfield itself. We received a counter proposal which suggested dividing the Gerrards Cross ward, including the majority of the ward in the Chesham and Amersham constituency, thus allowing the Beaconsfield ward, and the Old Town, to be included in the Marlow and South Buckinghamshire constituency.
  7. Only a small number of representations were received concerning our proposed High Wycombe, and Marlow and South Buckinghamshire constituencies, though a number of issues were raised in opposition. Some residents of Marlow Bottom felt that they should be included in the same constituency as nearby Marlow, though this is not the case in the existing scheme of constituencies. We received multiple counter proposals which suggested that the High Wycombe constituency should be made more clearly urban by excluding the Chiltern Villages ward. The names of both constituencies also attracted a number of representations, particularly in the case of our proposed High Wycombe constituency, which many felt was an unnecessary change from the existing name of Wycombe.
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Revised proposals

  1. In light of the representations received, our Assistant Commissioners recommended that we modify our initial proposals for Buckinghamshire.
  2. Our Assistant Commissioners agreed that a constituency which crosses between the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes unitary authorities is unavoidable without breaching regional boundaries, and that our proposed Buckingham and Bletchley constituency was the most widely supported way of achieving this. Noting this, and the general support for the boundaries of our proposed Newport Pagnell and Milton Keynes constituencies, they recommended that we retain the initial proposals for these three constituencies, though they did recommend Milton Keynes North and Milton Keynes South as more appropriate names for these constituencies.
  3. Considering the numeric and geographic constraints, our Assistant Commissioners also agreed that the proposed Princes Risborough constituency should be retained in the revised proposals. They did not feel that amending the split of the Chiltern Ridges ward would meaningfully improve this constituency with respect to the statutory factors. They did acknowledge concern about the sprawling nature of this constituency, and particularly felt that the name Princes Risborough did not adequately reflect its full extent; however, they did not recommend a specific alternative as they did not feel that the representations received pointed to a clear choice that would command local support.
  4. Our Assistant Commissioners considered the counter proposal to include the Hazlemere ward in the High Wycombe constituency, and the Tylers Green and Loudwater ward in the Chesham and Amersham constituency. Having visited the area, they felt that, while Hazlemere shares a greater affinity to High Wycombe than to Chesham, the affinity between Loudwater and High Wycombe is greater still, with Loudwater forming an integral part of the town. They therefore recommended that the initial proposals for High Wycombe be retained, though they agreed with representations which suggested that the name Wycombe was more reflective of the constituency as a whole.
  5. Our Assistant Commissioners were persuaded by the evidence that our initial proposals divided the town of Beaconsfield. Noting the apparent connections between Chalfont St. Peter and Gerrards Cross, and the physical barrier of the M40 motorway to the south, they agreed that the town of Gerrards Cross would have a strong community of interest with the Chesham and Amersham constituency. They therefore recommended that we adopt a counter proposal to split the Gerrards Cross ward, including the majority of the ward in the Chesham and Amersham constituency, and including the remainder of the ward (the Beaconsfield Old Town area and the parish of Hedgerley), as well as the Beaconsfield ward, in the Marlow and South Buckinghamshire constituency. Regarding this latter constituency, our Assistant Commissioners recommended that the existing name, Beaconsfield, be retained, given that the revised constituency would contain all of the town.
  6. We agreed with all of the recommendations of the Assistant Commissioners. Concerning the name of the proposed Princes Risborough constituency, we agreed that an alternative constituency name should be adopted for the revised proposals, and we felt that Mid Buckinghamshire was the name most likely to command local support. We therefore confirmed the initial proposals for the Buckingham and Bletchley, and Aylesbury constituencies, and the boundaries of the renamed Mid Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes North, Milton Keynes South, and Wycombe constituencies. We proposed revisions to the boundaries of the proposed Beaconsfield and Chesham and Amersham constituencies, the former of which also with a name change.
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Consultation on the revised proposals

  1. Our revision to the name of the proposed Milton Keynes North constituency was supported; however, the corresponding change to the proposed Milton Keynes South constituency attracted some opposition. Some responses argued that, as this proposed constituency includes the Central Milton Keynes ward, the name is potentially misleading, and a better name would be Milton Keynes Central, with the Buckingham and Bletchley constituency correspondingly being renamed as Milton Keynes South and Buckingham, or some variant thereof. More responses were received opposing the pairing of Buckingham and Bletchley, but no new arguments or alternatives were advanced.
  2. Again, only a small number of representations were made concerning the proposed Aylesbury constituency, although we did receive a new counter proposal which suggested including Stoke Mandeville and excluding the Buckingham Park area.
  3. The proposed Mid Buckinghamshire constituency attracted more representations in opposition, with some explicitly saying that their concerns were not allayed by simply revising the name of this constituency. A small number of representations suggested that the extent of this constituency could be limited by extending the proposed Buckingham and Bletchley constituency south into the Grendon Underwood ward. A number of representations were again received from the Chiltern Ridges ward, in particular the Chartridge parish, in support of including a greater proportion, if not all, of the ward in the Chesham and Amersham constituency.
  4. Our decision to retain the boundaries of the initial proposals for the Wycombe constituency drew a mixed response, though more supportive than opposing representations were received concerning the Tylers Green and Loudwater ward. We received multiple new counter proposals suggesting that the Chiltern Villages ward be excluded from this constituency in order to create a more compact constituency focused on High Wycombe.
  5. The revisions we proposed to the south of the Chesham and Amersham constituency, affecting Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross, were widely opposed. Responses noted that, just as the initial proposals divided Beaconsfield, the revised proposals divided the town of Gerrards Cross, a small part of which is included in the Denham ward. Around 400 representations were received in opposition to our proposals, with many recommending that we revert to the initial proposals for these two constituencies, including from residents of Knotty Green, an area to the north of Beaconsfield which is already in the existing Chesham and Amersham constituency. Set against these representations, however, we did note a not insignificant level of support for our revised proposals, including a small number from Gerrards Cross which emphasised connections to Chalfont St. Peter.
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Final recommendations

  1. Having considered the evidence, we propose an amendment to the boundaries of our revised proposals for the Beaconsfield, and Chesham and Amersham constituencies. We acknowledge that our revised proposals divide the town of Gerrards Cross, part of which is included in the Denham ward. While we note that many representations requested that we revert to the initial proposals in this area, this would restore a division of Beaconsfield which we sought to resolve in our revised proposals. We also note that some representations suggested that there were good community ties between Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St. Peter, and that the inclusion of the town in the Chesham and Amersham constituency was sensible, notwithstanding the division of the town. We therefore propose to divide the Denham ward, including a single polling district in the Chesham and Amersham constituency – we note that this would unite the entire Gerrards Cross parish in a single constituency.
  2. We also considered amending the northern boundary of the revised proposal for the Chesham and Amersham constituency. We noted that a greater area of the Chiltern Ridges ward, which we proposed dividing between the Chesham and Amersham, and Mid Buckinghamshire constituencies, could be included in the Chesham and Amersham constituency; however, while we remain of the view that it is necessary to divide this ward to prevent the division of Chesham, we were not persuaded that similarly compelling reasons exist to extend this ward split to more rural areas of the ward. We consider that, while the parish of Chartridge could be included in the constituency, we remain of the view that doing so is likely to further break community ties in the area, particularly as it is not possible to include the entirety of the ward in the Chesham and Amersham constituency.
  3. Finally, we have considered whether to amend the names of constituencies in the sub-region. We accept that our proposed Milton Keynes South constituency extends significantly further north than the existing constituency of the same name, and therefore we agree that Milton Keynes Central would be a more accurate name for this constituency, and have decided to adopt it as part of our final recommendations. We also feel, however, that Bletchley is sufficiently descriptive of the area of the Milton Keynes unitary authority that is in the Buckingham and Bletchley constituency, and as such we have retained this name in our final recommendations.
  4. Our final recommendations in Buckinghamshire are therefore for constituencies of: Aylesbury; Beaconsfield; Buckingham and Bletchley; Chesham and Amersham; Mid Buckinghamshire; Milton Keynes Central; Milton Keynes North; and Wycombe. These constituencies are composed of the areas listed in Volume two and shown on the maps in Volume three of this report.
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