CONSTITUENCY boundaries in Essex are set to remain generally unchanged – though there are substantial changes to the existing constituencies of Braintree and Saffron Walden.
On Tuesday (June 8) the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published its initial proposals for new constituency boundaries.
The public are now able to view and provide feedback on the proposed constituencies as part of an eight-week consultation process.
There are currently 18 constituencies in Essex. In the proposals, none of the existing Essex constituencies remain totally unchanged. Although two are unchanged to realign with new local government ward boundaries.
The most substantial change is to the existing Braintree constituency, as a result of the cross-county boundary constituency with Suffolk.
There are only minimal changes to the majority of the existing constituencies.
The only change to the existing Chelmsford constituency, according to the proposals, is the exclusion of the Galleywood ward – which is now included in the proposed Maldon constituency – in order to bring the Chelmsford constituency within the permitted electorate range.
The transfer of Little Baddow, Danbury and Sandon ward to the proposed Braintree constituency is the only other change to the existing Maldon constituency.
In order to bring the South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency within the permitted electorate range, the Vange ward is included in the Basildon and Billericay constituency. The existing Basildon and Billericay constituency is otherwise unchanged.
The boundary commission proposes the inclusion – from the existing Brentwood and Ongar constituency – of the two wards of Moreton and Fyfield, and High Ongar, Willingale and The Rodings in the Saffron Walden constituency. The commission considers that this change makes the existing constituency name of Brentwood and Ongar less appropriate, and therefore the boundary commission proposes it simply be called Brentwood.
The only change to the existing Epping Forest constituency is to transfer the Broadley Common, Epping Upland and Nazeing ward to the Harlow constituency.
The electorate of the existing Saffron Walden constituency at 86,605 is currently significantly above the electorate range – each constituency is being recommended by law to contain between 69,724 and 77,062 electors – and therefore substantial change is required.
In addition to the transfer of Brentwood wards in Saffron Walden, the commission propose that the four city of Chelmsford wards of Writtle, Chelmsford Rural West, Broomfield and The Walthams, and Boreham and The Leighs, which are currently within the existing Saffron Walden constituency, be included in the Braintree constituency.
Further change is proposed to the existing Braintree constituency, as ten wards, including the town of Halstead, are included in the cross-county boundary constituency between Essex and Suffolk.
Additionally, the Hatfield Peverel and Terling ward is included in the proposed Braintree constituency, and there are also changes to re-align constituency boundaries with new local government ward boundaries.
The commission says that while the change to the existing Braintree constituency is significant, it avoids a ‘domino effect’ of changes to a series of constituencies that would otherwise be caused by the cross-county boundary constituency.
Furthermore, the town of Braintree remains united within a single constituency, and the A131 provides road connections with the rest of the constituency.
The 2023 Review of Parliamentary constituencies was formally launched in January this year.
The Commission is required to ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is more equal; in doing so, the number of constituencies in England will increase from 533 to 543. The Commission is undertaking an independent review of all constituency boundaries in England and will present final recommendations to Parliament by July 2023.
Tim Bowden, Secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, said: “Today’s proposals mark the first time people get to see what the new map of Parliamentary constituencies might look like.
“But they are just the Commission’s initial thoughts. Help us draw the line to make the number of electors in each Parliamentary constituency more equal.
“Each constituency we recommend is required by law to contain between 69,724 and 77,062 electors, meaning there will be significant change to current boundaries.
“We want to hear the views of the public to ensure that we get the new boundaries for Parliamentary constituencies right.
“We consider all feedback received during the consultation process, and it is your local knowledge that helps us to shape constituencies that best reflect your local area. It is easy to get involved – view our proposals and have your say on our online consultation portal – www.bcereviews.org.uk.”