Local MP: Solihull Borough still at risk from ‘divisive’ boundary changes

We are all being encouraged to have our say in the final stages of the Boundary Commissions consultation on the proposed new parliamentary constituencies.

Under the plans first published in the autumn by the Boundary Commission, communities including Knowle and Dorridge, would be split down the middle as three new constituencies would be created from the existing Meriden constituency, whilst the Solihull constituency would be severed in two, with the north of the constituency joining Birmingham.

The decision to change the boundaries was made about after a report, commissioned by Parliament, argued that the UK must redraw the political map to address concerns that a growing population would lead to constituents being under represented in Westminster. However, the plans have sparked controversy with the number of MPs set to be reduced from 650 to 600 across England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland in a move to help save the public purse.

In total, 167 responses; including a local resident’s petition of over 500 signatories from the Meriden constituency was submitted to the boundary commission from the across the Borough, demonstrating local concern that the new boundaries would bring the needs of Silhillians into conflict with neighbouring council areas.

Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman, who submitted evidence to the Boundary Commission at a public hearing in Birmingham in November argued that the plans would divide communities such as in a way that ‘flies in the face of local ties’.

Speaking about the proposals and the consultation, the MP said: “I am so grateful to residents who took the trouble to comment on phase one of the consultation. However, we all need to act to feed in our thoughts during the equally important second stage which will ultimately pave the way for the drawing up of the final map.

“At the heart of any plans to change constituency boundaries must be a firm commitment to providing 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, I am also 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”.

“I want residents to be clear that if the integrity of our Borough is not respected by the Boundary Commission, there is a real risk that the needs of local people could become lost in the wake of the surrounding conurbation”.

Local residents have until 27th March to express their view on the feedback given to the Boundary Commission and can comment on the proposals by writing to the Boundary Commission: Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ; or visiting their website: https://www.bce2018.org.uk Similarly, a petition being sponsored by Caroline Spelman to ‘Oppose the breakup of Meriden constituency’ can be found on her website: www.carolinespelman.com or on social media.