Proposals for major boundary changes that could see the people of Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge represented by an MP covering Bridgwater instead of Wells are set to take a step forward this year.
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published its initial proposals last year, as we reported here, for the new parliamentary constituencies which would take effect before the next UK general election.
In our area, the proposals would see Bridgwater disconnected from West Somerset and a new constituency formed to include Bridgwater, Burnham-On-Sea, Berrow, Brean, Highbridge, Huntspill, North Petherton, Puriton, Woolavington, King’s Isle and Quantocks, as shown above.
Following the first round of consultation, which ended last August, the BCE has published a list of four public hearings which will be held as part of a new second round of consultation when local people can have their say.
Under the nationwide 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 aim 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 in Somerset 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 22nd to April 4th – four public hearings are being organised in the south west region. The following hearings have been confirmed to date:
- Exeter, March 21st-22nd
- Gloucester, March 24th-25th
- Bath, March 28th-29th
- Dorchester, March 31st-April 1st
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 7th, 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 via www.bcereviews.org.uk.
A final four-week consultation will be held in late 2022, with the final report being submitted in June 2023.