Posted: 05.01.22 at 17:00 by By Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Mumby
Somerset residents will have to travel to Bath or further afield if they wish to publicly express their views on the new general election boundaries.
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published its initial proposals in June 2021 for the new parliamentary constituencies which would take effect before the next UK general election.
Following the first round of consultation, which concluded on August 2, the BCE has published a list of public hearings which will be staged as part of the upcoming second round of consultation.
But Somerset residents wishing to attend or take part in these hearings face a long trip to do so, with no hearings scheduled to be held within the Somerset County Council area.
Under the proposals, the total number of seats in the House of Commons will remain at 650 – but the number of constituencies in England will increase from 533 to 543.
The new boundaries are designed to make representation more equal, with each of the new seats having a population of between 69,724 and 77,062 people.
The area covered by Somerset County Council is currently divided into five constituencies – Bridgwater and West Somerset, Somerton and Frome, Taunton Deane, Wells and Yeovil, all of which currently have Conservative MPs.
Under the new proposals, these boundaries will be redrawn with new seats being created – with some of the new seats including parishes from neighbouring counties.
The new seats will be as follows:
:Bridgwater – which will include Bridgwater itself along with Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge
:Frome – which will include Frome itself along with Bruton, Midsomer Norton and Radstock
:Glastonbury and Somerton – which will include both towns along with Castle Cary, Langport, Street and Wincanton
:Taunton – which includes Somerset’s county town along with Wellington
Tiverton and Minehead – which will see Minehead, Watchet and Williton (along with the Hinkley Point C site) join up with Tiverton over the border in Devon
:Wells and Mendips – which will include Wells along with Axbridge, Cheddar, Shepton Mallet and Yatton
:Yeovil – which will include Yeovil itself along with Chard, Crewkerne and Ilminster
As part of the second round of consultation – which runs from February 22 to April 4 – a total of 32 public hearings are being organised across the UK, with four earmarked for the south west region.
However, none of the hearings are scheduled to be held within the Somerset County Council area – with those wishing to speak either having to travel to Bath (within the Bath and North East Somerset Council area) or journey to the neighbouring counties of Devon, Dorset and Gloucestershire.
The following hearings have been confirmed to date:
Exeter, March 21-22
Gloucester, March 24-25
Bath, March 28-29
Dorchester, March 31-April 1
A BCE spokesman said: “We’re looking forward to listening to your views on how we can improve our proposed boundary lines and constituency names.
“You will also be able to comment on the responses we received during our first consultation. We intend to publish these responses on our consultation website during the week commencing February 7, to give you the opportunity to take others’ views into account when providing your own feedback.”
Those unable to attend any of the hearings can take part in the consultation by visiting www.bcereviews.org.uk.
A final four-week consultation will be held in late-2022, with the final report being submitted in June 2023.
The next UK general election will have to be held by May 2, 2024.
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