Revised proposals – the last chance to have your say
As we publish our Revised Proposals for new Parliamentary constituencies today, it’s hard to believe that I have only been in position as Deputy Chairman of the Commission for a matter of months. And what a busy few months they have been.
The publication of our Revised Proposals marks the culmination of months of hard work by the commissioners, our assistant commissioners and the staff of the Commission. We have forensically considered the 25,000 public comments that we received in response to our initial proposals, and have been struck by all the extremely positive and constructive comments people have contributed to the process. We’ve travelled the country looking at the areas of real contention, and learnt so much about the nation’s communities, from St Ives to Berwick-Upon-Tweed. In many parts of the country, the well-argued written representations we have received, and the passionate speeches we heard when we hosted open public hearings last year, have succeeded in persuading us of the strength of community feeling in those areas, and I am delighted that we have been able to change over half of the original proposals based on what people have told us. A real triumph of engagement and consultation.
And having considered all the comments so far, my fellow commissioners and I now think that we are very close to the map of constituencies that we will recommend to Parliament next year. We want everyone to take a look at our revised proposals – the best way is at bce2018.org.uk – and consider the changes we have made since our first map was published, and how we’ve been able to reflect what has been said to us. Ours is a tough job: Parliament has set tight mathematical constraints in reducing the number of constituencies, and getting a much more equal number of electors in each constituency. Those are hard-edged rules. But, consistent with them, we must also take account of the other factors such as keeping change to a minimum, taking account of local government and other significant geographic boundaries and, crucially, trying to reflect local communities’ views. You would be right to think that ours was a formidable task. But Parliament has given us this job to do and we feel strongly that the map of England we publish today is the best way to balance all those factors, based on what people have said to us.
So in contributing to this final consultation we want people to consider carefully what others have said so far, and our judgements about those arguments. We’re not looking for the same points to be made to us again; rather, we’re looking for new or compelling evidence about how our proposals could be bettered before our final recommendations are put to Parliament next year. This is the last chance for people to get involved in this fundamental democratic process so take a look at our website, spread the word about boundary changes, and help shape the new Parliamentary constituencies in your area.