Radical constituency boundary shake-up planned for Northamptonshire
Proposals to shake up Northamptonshire's Parliamentary constituencies could see part of the county merging with neighbouring Leicestershire as part of a bid to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600.
As part of a long-awaited shake-up, the Boundary Commission of England, Wales and Northern Ireland has drawn up draft plans to cut the number of constituencies in the East Midlands from 46 to 44 by the next General Election in 2020.
As part of the plans, the Commission proposes to merge the Daventry seat, currently occupied by Chris Heaton-Harris, with part of Conservative held South Leicestershire to create a new constituency - Daventry and Lutterworth.
Mr Heaton-Harris said: “I know a number of my constituents will be surprised by the big changes proposed. This is only the first part of the process and I urge everyone with thoughts about the proposals to get involved in the public consultation over the next twelve months.”
By law, every constituency proposed must contain between 71,031 and 78,507 electors and the plans also propose a radical shake up of the two constituencies in the county town, Northampton.
Proposals are to expand the Northampton South constituency, currently held by MP David Mackintosh, to take in villages currently in Andrea Leadsom’s South Northamptonshire area.
They will include Conservative heartlands such as Hackleton, Yardley Hastings and Little Houghton.
However the shake-up would also see the constituency take villages currently held by the Wellingborough MP, Peter Bone, including Wollaston.
Nationally the Labour party has criticised the proposals, saying they are unfairly weighted in favour of the Tories.
Even Jeremy Corbyn’s own North Islington seat would be split up, with pieces being joined on to other constituencies.
The measures were meant to even up the number of voters in constituencies across the UK, but was complied using registration data from 2015, rather than the more recent 2016 EU referendum.
Leader of the Northampton Labour Group, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said: “These draft parliamentary boundary proposals are very surprising as they are quite radical.
“It is a bit strange for Northampton South to incorporate villages in South Northamptonshire and Wellingborough. In fact, if these changes go ahead the name ‘Northampton South’ isn’t really appropriate anymore.
“Unfortunately some of this is down to people not being on the electoral register due to introduction of Individual Electoral Registration.
“I echo what has been said by the Labour Party leadership in that we should be using the electoral register as of July 1, 2016 and not December 1, 2015. The number of voters is much higher since December as people registered to vote in the EU referendum.”
Changes appear less radical in the north and east of Northamptonshire however.
Kettering and Corby remain largely unchanged, though the proposed map appears to show Irthlingborough moving from MP Tom Pursglove’s Corby seat into that of his Conservative colleague, Peter Bone in Wellingborough.
The plans are in a draft stage and can be viewed at the Boundary Commission’s website here