Boundary changes: Big shake-up for Black Country and Staffordshire MPs in plans

The political futures of MPs in the Black Country and Staffordshire were today put on the line after proposals for a major shake up of parliamentary boundaries were published.

The Boundary Commission has proposed a series of changes under its latest review, which aims to even up the number of people in constituencies across the country.

The latest plans will see the region lose two seats in Parliament, dropping from 25 to 23, while some seats will be renamed and dozens of wards will move between constituencies.

Only Cannock Chase and Burton will remain unchanged, with the commission's aim for every seat to have an electorate of between 69,724 and 77,062 meaning many in our region will be expanded.

In detail:

Under the plans Dudley South – held since 2015 by Conservative MP Mike Wood – will go completely, its areas split between Stourbridge, South Staffordshire and Dudley North.

South Staffordshire, the seat held by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, will become Kingswinford and South Staffordshire, incorporating areas including Wall Heath and Wordsley.

The three seats currently in Walsall will be scrapped and replaced with two – Walsall, and Bloxwich and Brownhills – with the changes resulting in both Willenhall and Aldridge split between constituencies.

Halesowen and Rowley Regis will be expanded to include more parts of Dudley and renamed Halesowen, while two Wolverhampton seats will take in parts of Walsall.

MPs have expressed mixed views about the changes, with some facing the potential of their seat being swallowed up by other constituencies.

Opposing

Others, including Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, argue the proposals will fail to benefit residents.

The plans will see Lichfield lose the Whittington and Streethay council ward to Tamworth, while Wall and part of the area immediately south of the M6 Toll – including the villages of Summerhill and Chesterfield – move from Tamworth to Lichfield.

Meanwhile Lichfield Trent Valley railway station will have a platform in each constituency.

Mr Fabricant has urged residents to join him in opposing the proposals, which he said would make "very little difference" to the size of the Lichfield constituency.

He said suggesting moving Streethay into Tamworth "displays no knowledge of the area and is a rehash of their proposals made a few years back which were never enacted by Parliament".

“I shall oppose this," he added. "It divides Lichfield Trent Valley station in two and cuts off the eastern edge of Lichfield itself.

"I shall also miss representing the people of Whittington and the wonderful St Giles Hospice. Frankly, it’s a nonsense. It bears all the hallmarks of boundaries drawn in the 19th and 20th centuries by Whitehall mapmakers in days of Empire without any knowledge or care of the regions and people concerned.

"In fact, the Lichfield constituency could remain unchanged as it has the correct population. If it is necessary to ‘top up’ Tamworth, other wards could be moved."

In Worcestershire, Wyre Forest will remain unchanged but will see its name changed to Kidderminster.

The proposed changes – which are set to come in after the next general election – are out for consultation until August 2. To take part visit bcereviews.org.uk/ or write to Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3BQ.

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