Boundary change.

Proposed boundary changes.

In 2011 legislation was passed that will lead to the number of MPs going from 650 down to 600. This will lead to many changes in the boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies.

It was also decided that each new seat will contain roughly the same number of voters, the average being 74,769, with variations allowed of plus or minus 5%. The minimum number of voters in a seat will be 71,031 and the maximum 78,507.

In Wales we are going to go from having 40 MPs to 29 MPs because most seats here are well under the minimum. Montgomeryshire has less than 50,000 voters.

The seat of Montgomeryshire will be split. This is probably inevitable but what can be changed is how Montgomeryshire is split.

 The current boundary change proposal.

The current proposals will move Llanidloes and the surrounding area of Blaen Hafren into the seat of Ceredigion. Those living in this area know this does not make sense. The task is to explain to the Boundary Commission for Wales why this is not a sensible proposal.

What makes the task easier is that the Boundary Commission for Wales made proposals in 2012 that split Montgomeryshire in two, but left Llanidloes and Blaen Hafren in the new constituency of Brecon, Radnor and Montgomery. Under these proposals our MP would cover most of Powys, so he or she would know what is going on in Llanidloes, in the county, and would also cover Newtown where many of us work. He or she would be familiar with the local economy, other matters such as the local transport situation, and be able to work closely with our Assembly member for Montgomeryshire on local issues as they would both cover this part of Montgomeryshire.

 The 2012 proposal.

Those who want Llanidloes and Blaen Hafren to become part of the new Brecon, Radnor and Montgomery constituency rather than Ceredigion should bear in mind two key points.

  • What the Boundary Commission for Wales is suggesting are 'initial proposals'. They are only proposals and can be changed.

  • All that needs to be done is to ask the Boundary Commission for Wales to go back to their 2012 proposals.

The Boundary Commission must work to a set of rules laid down by Parliament in 2011. These rules state that when setting new boundaries, as well as making sure the number of voters in each seat is roughly the same, the commission should take into account geographical features, cultural factors and social links. It should also arrange that the new boundaries should follow local government boundaries where possible. In this case the local boundary would be the Powys County Council boundary.

For those who know the area it is clear that the boundary commission is not aware of the local geography and the impact this has on culture and local ties. Once these things have been explained to the commission it should not be difficult to persuade them to go back to their original 2012 proposal. This would also fit in with the guidance given to them by Parliament, that parliamentary and local boundaries should coincide where possible.

The commission will listen to counter proposals so it permissible to suggest, for example, that if part of Montgomeryshire is needed to make up the numbers in the new seat of Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire then this could be done by including Macynlleth instead. We believe people in Machynlleth would prefer this rather than the current proposals that make them part of South Clwyd and North Powys. The adjustments then needed to the seat of South Clwyd and North Powys could be made further north where there are more seats and therefore greater flexibility in the allocation of boundaries. 

We are now approaching the second consultation period. This is expected to begin at the end of February.