Originally published 13 September 2016.
Lib Dem says Boundary Commission 'musical chairs' would lose an integral part of Cheltenham. The Boundary Commission for England has today proposed that Springbank ward in the west of Cheltenham should join rural villages like Stanton, Twyning and Boddington in the Tewkesbury parliamentary constituency.
The Boundary Commission is consulting on plans to change parliamentary boundaries by 2018, in time for the next General Election expected in 2020. The government has asked them to make sure parliamentary seats in England have electorates no smaller than 71,031 and no bigger than 78,507.
They have found the Forest of Dean contains too few electors so are proposing taking the sprawling Coombe Hill ward out of the neighbouring Tewkesbury constituency and adding it to the Forest. An earlier proposal to take Gloucester City centre out of Gloucester to make up the Forest's numbers was met with derision. But taking Coombe Hill out of Tewkesbury constituency chops that seat in two, separating its northern half (containing Twyning, Stanway, Winchcombe, Bishop's Cleeve and Tewkesbury itself) from its southern half (containing Staverton, Churchdown, Shurdington and Brockworth). The Boundary Commission's solution is to reconnect the two halves using Springbank ward in Cheltenham.
Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Martin Horwood said: "This is a crazy plan. Springbank residents shop, work and live in Cheltenham not the rural areas of Gloucestershire. They have almost nothing in common with small villages like Twyning or Stanway. All Saints Academy in Springbank serves the whole of Cheltenham not the rural area. Springbank has never been a separate village like Swindon Vilage or Prestbury or even Charlton Kings. It has been an integral part of Cheltenham since it was built. The Boundary Commission admit themselves they are just doing it to make the map work. They are playing musical chairs with our town and paying no attention to natural communities."
"I was knocking on doors in Springbank only last week. I don't recall anyone mentioning farm subsidies or rural bus services. I would strongly urge everyone to object to this daft plan."
- The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) 2018 review website is at http://www.bce2018.org.uk/.
- BCE's instructions from government are to reduce the number of constituencies from 533 to 501 and normally to requre every constituency to have an electorate no smaller than 71,031 and no larger than 78,507.
- Gloucestershire's allocation of 6 seats (9 including South Gloucestershire) does not change. But the tighter rules on the size of constituencies does affect us with the Forest of Dean falling below the lower limit.
- The existing boundaries around Cheltenham are shown below with the Forest of Dean to the west and Tewkesbury almost surrounding Cheltenham: