The 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries in England – Volume one: Report – West Midlands
The West Midlands region currently has 59 constituencies. Of these constituencies, 26 have electorates within the permitted range. The electorates of 25 constituencies currently fall below the permitted range, while the electorates of eight constituencies are above. Our proposals reduce the number of constituencies in the region by two, to 57.
The West Midlands region comprises the ceremonial counties of: Herefordshire; Shropshire; Staffordshire; Warwickshire; West Midlands; and Worcestershire; it is covered by a mix of district and county councils, and unitary authorities.
We appointed two Assistant Commissioners for the West Midlands – Sir David Natzler KCB and Ruth Bagley OBE – 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 West Midlands of 4,169,012 results in it being entitled to 57 constituencies, a decrease of two. We then considered how this number of constituencies could be split across the region.
We noted that Herefordshire’s electorate of 142,019 results in a mathematical entitlement to 1.94 constituencies and therefore considered Herefordshire as a sub-region in its own right, allocated two whole constituencies (the same as the existing allocation). The combined electorate of Shropshire (including Telford and Wrekin) is 376,136, resulting in a mathematical entitlement to 5.12 constituencies, so we considered Shropshire as a sub-region in its own right, allocated five whole constituencies (the same as the existing allocation). The electorate of Worcestershire is 447,152, providing it with a mathematical entitlement to 6.09 constituencies, so we also considered Worcestershire as a sub‑region, allocated six constituencies (the same as the existing allocation). We also considered Warwickshire as a sub‑region: its electorate of 432,462 results in a mathematical entitlement to 5.89 constituencies, so we allocated it six whole constituencies (no change from the existing allocation).
Due to the size of the electorate in the West Midlands combined authority, it is beneficial to further divide it by local authority where possible. The City of Coventry (electorate 217,818) and the City of Birmingham (electorate 729,944) could be allocated three and ten whole constituencies respectively, but the Borough of Solihull (electorate 162,614) is too large for two whole constituencies, and far too small for three. It is therefore necessary to pair Solihull with either Birmingham or Coventry. We considered that pairing Birmingham with Solihull minimises disruption to existing constituencies, and better reflects local ties, resulting in a Birmingham and Solihull sub-region allocated 12 whole constituencies (no change from the current allocation of constituencies across Birmingham and Solihull).
The remaining authorities in the West Midlands combined authority are the metropolitan boroughs of Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton, and Walsall, hereafter referred to as the Black Country. With a collective electorate of 827,975, the Black Country has a mathematical entitlement to 11.28, allowing 11 whole constituencies to be allocated. Similarly, Staffordshire (including Stoke-on-Trent) has a combined electorate of 832,892, giving a mathematical entitlement to 11.35 constituencies, also allowing 11 whole constituencies to be allocated. As allocating 11 to both would result in a total of 56 constituencies being allocated to the entire West Midlands region, one fewer than the 57 constituencies which it has been allocated, we considered it necessary to combine Staffordshire and the Black Country into one sub-region, to which we allocated 23 whole constituencies (a reduction of two from the existing allocation). This ensures that the total allocation for the West Midlands region is 57 constituencies.
The use of the sub-regions outlined above was largely supported during the consultation on the initial proposals, including by those commenting on the pattern across the region. We did, however, receive in consultation some alternative proposed sub-regions, including particularly:
treating Birmingham as stand-alone, pairing Solihull with Warwickshire instead; and
treating Staffordshire as stand-alone, combining the Black Country with Birmingham.
In formulating our revised proposals, we considered that no persuasive evidence had been received to propose any alternative sub-regions. In the first counter proposal above, we considered there was insufficient justification to disturb broadly well-received constituencies in Birmingham and Warwickshire, while in the second counter proposal above, we recognised the benefits that would arise to Staffordshire, but felt they would be outweighed by the degree of disruption this would require across the Black Country and Birmingham.
In response to our revised proposals, we received one counter proposal to add Shropshire to the Staffordshire and Black Country sub-region, entailing a constituency that would combine the Shifnal and Albrighton wards of Shropshire with Staffordshire wards across to Great Wyrley. We do not consider that this counter proposal provided persuasive evidence that the perceived benefits would outweigh the disruption to otherwise well-supported Shropshire constituencies and the creation of an additional constituency that would cross a county boundary. Therefore, our final recommendations of sub-regions are:
Birmingham and Solihull
Shropshire (including Telford and Wrekin)
Staffordshire (including Stoke-on-Trent) and the Black Country