By Vikki Slade, Associate Director
The Boundary Commission for England has now published its draft proposals that will see most of the UK Parliamentary Boundaries change, with some seats disappearing and others substantially altered. The proposals are currently undergoing the first round of consultations but, when complete, could lead to an early General Election as early as Spring 2023.
The Queen’s Speech confirmed that the Fixed Term Parliament Act will be revoked and the lead time for a General Election is likely to be reduced. This has led to political parties beginning to select their candidates to be ready for whatever the outcome of both procedures.
In the South West of England, there will be an increase of three seats, one in Gloucestershire/Wiltshire and two extra seats across Avon, Somerset and Devon. Only three seats in the region are completely unchanged. It was widely trailed that constituencies would no longer cross upper tier (county or unitary) council boundaries, but this has not been possible due to the need to ensure that all seats sit within a defined electorate number. Thus, Dorset has been considered a single sub-region retaining its eight seats with two crossing between the Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council boundaries as currently is the case.
We have produced a detailed analysis of the changes in Dorset for our clients, looking at the likely impact at the next election on the existing Members of Parliament and whether the comparatively minor changes will affect them.
Whilst all seats in the county have relatively large majorities, the smallest being 8,806, the recent result in Chesham & Amersham and in Batley & Spen demonstrate that local issues can influence voter behaviour.
Several seats have considerable Green Belt areas that are coming under pressure from the Government’s housing formula. This could see sitting MPs take a different stance from their Party to protect their vote, or the emergence of a threat from residents’ groups keen to protect their environment.
Our planning and public affairs team can provide detailed political audits using the skills and experience of our team, many of whom have been or are elected councillors or are active members of political parties. These audits are invaluable in establishing key local figures and issues that should be considered for major developments in any area. Get in touch with Marlies Koutstaal to find out more.