Caroline Spelman: Boundary Changes to the Meriden Constituency (2018)

A fortnight ago, local residents may have learnt of new proposals, composed by The Boundary Commission, to redraw the boundaries of UK Parliamentary constituencies. This is because that over time national constituencies have become unequal in terms of their population. Following careful deliberation, the Commission has set the optimum population size at between 71,031 and 78,507 electors.

In addition to this, the Boundary Commission also made recommendations to reduce the number of Parliamentary constituencies and the House of Commons by 50 MPs to save the public purse. Consequentially, this move will affect the two constituencies in the Borough of Solihull, in particular, Meriden constituency.

The Commissions draft proposals recommended that Meriden constituency should be split into three new constituencies;

  • ‘North Solihull and Chelmsley Wood’: to include Castle Bromwich, Bickenhill , Lyndon and Elmdon wards, as well as the Birmingham ward of Sheldon
  • ‘Coventry West and Meriden’: to include Knowle, Balsall Common, Meriden and much of the existing Coventry North West constituency
  • ‘South Solihull and Shirley’: to include Solihull Town Centre, Shirley, Dorridge, Blythe, and the Tanworth- in-Arden ward from Stratford-upon-Avon.

As your MP, I want to ensure that these proposals provide local residents with fair and equal representation. However, I am very concerned that the Solihull and Meriden Parliamentary constituencies would be split over four local authorities and this goes against the boundary commission's aim to respect existing local government boundaries. Further, that because communities such as Knowle and Meriden receive very few, if any, public services from Coventry these communities risk being a smaller voice in the context of the needs of a larger city.

Under these plans, much of the work done to unite the Borough could be undone by the political separation of Meriden constituencies in these otherwise close communities. It’s a shame that after striving so hard to avoid using the terms north and south Solihull, the constituency of North Solihull and Chelmsley Wood, by its own configuration, deals a blow to this.

Under these proposals the Solihull Council boundaries will not be changing, so I shall be lobbying hard to keep the constituency boundaries coterminous and protect in integrity of the Borough. However these proposals are not cast in stone and you can help shape the eventual outcome by writing to the boundary commission to express your views in the next 12 weeks. I will be giving evidence to the commission in person and will be speaking with residents to understand local concerns about these proposals.

Caroline Spelman