The first two weeks – an update from the Commission
We’re exactly two weeks in to the consultation on our initial proposals, which we published on 13 September 2016. Since then we’ve been asking all of you to get involved with the consultation and let us know what you think. You’re the experts when it comes to local communities, so we want you to tell us if our proposals reflect your community – are the shops, surgeries and schools you use in the same constituency as your home?
Plenty of you have already got involved and told us what you do and don’t like. In the past two weeks we’ve had over 2,300 responses through our website at www.bce2018.org.uk, as well as emails and letters. This is a fantastic response, and each of these will be considered by my team and our Assistant Commissioners as they look at whether to revise the initial proposals later in the process. For those of you yet to look at the proposals or let us know what you think, there’s plenty of time as you have until 5 December to submit any comments.
Some of you will be waiting to have your say direct to us at one of our public hearings. Starting in Manchester on 11 October, we are hosting 36 two-day public hearings around the country when anyone can come along and give their views direct to one of our Assistant Commissioners – these are not opportunities for the Assistant Commissioner or public to cross-examine those speaking but simply a way for us to hear in person what people’s views are.
As with written comments, we are interested in hearing what you don’t like and why, as well as any suggestions on how we could improve the proposed boundaries. We’d also like to hear what you do like about the initial proposals so we know what we shouldn’t change!
The full list of public hearing locations and dates are available online (http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/boundary-commission-for-england-10840540288) where you can also book a slot to guarantee a chance to speak – some hearings might get very busy so we do recommend this.
Our Assistant Commissioners, who will host the public hearings, are independent and appointed by the Commission specifically to consider all the representations received during the first two consultation periods. They also work with my team to write a report on each region for the Commissioners summarising the representations and recommending any changes to the initial proposals where necessary.
Twenty-one Assistant Commissioners are involved in the 2018 Review, all with various backgrounds, from law, through education and to engineering. They came to meet my team last week and to be briefed on the regions they’re responsible for – that showed me how much they’re looking forward to hearing from you. You can read more about our Assistant Commissioners and which regions they’ll be working with on our website (https://boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk/about-us/assistant-commissioners/).
We face a substantial challenge in revising constituency boundaries. We’ve taken into account various factors including local authority boundaries, county borders and geographical features where possible but also want to hear from you so we can use local knowledge in the 2018 Review. At the last review we changed almost two-thirds of our initial proposals based on what the public said to us during the consultation, demonstrating just how important this stage of the review is and the impact you can have.
So now it’s over to you – go online at www.bce2018.org.uk or come and speak to us at a public hearing and help us shape the new Parliamentary constituencies in England.