VOTERS are being asked to share their views over initial proposals to significantly redraw the parliamentary map in Wales in time for the next general election.
The Boundary Commission for Wales has opened an eight-week consultation on how constituency boundaries could be changed to allow for plans to reduce the number of Welsh MPs by eight.
Proposals were published online on Wednesday, September 8, following confirmation earlier this year that the number of parliamentary representatives in Wales will fall from 40 to 32.
The reduction represents the “most significant change to Wales’s constituencies in a century”, the Commission said.
The new constituencies are due to come into force at the next general election.
Tory peer and polling expert Lord Hayward predicted they could result in two or three Tory losses, three or four Labour losses, and Plaid Cymru losing either one or two seats.
Members of public are now being encouraged to set out whether they support or oppose the proposals.
In Conwy, proposals retain the seat of Aberconwy – but extend the existing constituency boundaries.
The number of voters rises by 25,873 voters from 44,000 to 69,909
To the East the proposed boundaries now take in Mochdre, Llandrillo yn Rhos, Llangernyw down to Glasfryn, Llangwm and Maerdy.
To the West the proposed boundaries encompass Bangor as far south as Hendre, Dewi and Glyder wards as well as Gerlan, Ogwen and Tregarth and Mynydd Llandegai ward
Robin Millar, MP for Aberconwy said: “I welcome this review that seeks to bring more equality and fairness to our democracy.
“With only 44,000 registered voters at the 2019 General Election it was always clear that Aberconwy would have to change. I will now discuss it closely with colleagues and am keen to hear from residents on their views also.
“On a personal note, this area is my home – it is where I was born, raised, went to school and have my home. I could not be more proud to be here and be its representative in Westminster. Nothing in these proposals changes that and my focus remains on working hard for constituents and their best interests.”
Iwan Davies, Returning Officer for Aberconwy and Clwyd West constituencies said: “These initial proposals from the Boundary Commission for Wales suggest significant changes for constituencies across Wales.
“They are the first step on a long journey towards reforming Wales’ parliamentary constituency boundaries and your local knowledge is key to this part of the review.”
David Jones, MP for Clwyd West, said: “These are simply proposals by the Boundary Commission and should not be regarded as the final shape of constituency boundaries in Wales.
“The Conservative party will be considering the proposals and making such representations to the Commission as it considers appropriate.”
Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, said: “The Boundary Commission for Wales has now released its ‘Initial Proposals’ for revised UK Parliamentary constituencies for future General Elections. The proposals take into account changing population levels and a desire to ensure that MPs around the country all represent a similar number of constituents.
“The plans suggest major change for Denbighshire, which currently falls within the Vale of Clwyd, Clwyd West and Clwyd South constituencies. In future, the West of the current Vale of Clwyd constituency, including Rhyl, Rhuddlan, St Asaph, Bodelwyddan, Trefnant and Denbigh, could be located within a new ‘Clwyd’ constituency – while the east of the area, including Prestatyn, Dyserth, Tremeirchion and Llandyrnog, could be moved to an expanded ‘Delyn’ seat.
“These proposals are sure to raise many questions and concerns, and a consultation exercise on this first stage of the process is due to continue until November 3.
“It is not uncommon for the Commission to revise its proposals following feedback, and I would encourage all with an interest to submit their views.”
The Commission has said that, if the new proposals are adopted, they would “result in a Parliamentary map of Wales very different from the one we are familiar with”.
It also warned it could not consider arguments over the number of constituencies as it has no power to set the number of MPs, which was decided by Parliament.
Boundary changes are also taking place in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in order to reflect population changes across the UK.
Overall, the Conservative Party is set to gain 10 seats in the restructure.
England’s boundary commission, which published its proposal ahead of the summer recess, confirmed the country’s seats would rise from 533 to 543.
Under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended), each nation and region of the UK is given a share of 650 MPs based on the number of registered electors.
The Act also says that each constituency must contain between 69,724 and 77,062 voters, 5% either way of the UK average.
There is one exception to this rule in Wales – Ynys Mon can remain outside of the statutory range.
Other than this constituency, boundary changes are proposed for all others in Wales, the Commission said.
Some constituencies see changed names under the proposals, while some are fully absorbed into neighbouring constituencies.
Commenting on his predictions, Lord Hayward said: “Two seats are particularly close to call, they are Carmarthen and Alyn and Deeside.”
He added that for the Conservatives and Labour “inevitably both parties face the possibility that two MPs of the same party will have to face off against each other because of the reduction of seats in Wales”.
He said for the Tories this would be in Pembrokeshire/Carmarthen and North-East Wales, while for Labour it could be in Mid Glamorgan, Gwent and around Swansea.
The Commission said it had taken into account geographical features, such as lakes, rivers and mountains, when shaping its proposals, and also considered “local ties”, such as “shared history and culture”.
It explained that under its initial proposals six principal councils would be wholly contained within new constituencies (Blaenau Gwent, Ceredigion, the Isle of Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire and Torfaen).
Some 16 existing constituencies would be wholly contained within new constituencies under the proposals (Aberconwy, Alyn and Deeside, Blaenau Gwent, Brecon and Radnorshire, Cardiff Central, Cardiff North, Cardiff West, Ceredigion, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Islwyn, Llanelli, Montgomeryshire, Rhondda, Torfaen).
Meanwhile, 18 of the existing constituency names would remain the same.
The Commission said six constituencies would have an area over 1,000 kilometres squared (Aberconwy, Brecon and Radnor, Caerfyrddin, Ceredigion Preseli, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, and Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr).
Four of these – Caerfyrddin, Ceredigion Preseli, Dwyfor Merionnydd, and Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr – would be between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometres squared, while Brecon and Radnor would be over 3,000 kilometres squared.
Where electoral wards are currently split across more than one existing parliamentary constituency the Commission has proposed they should be allocated entirety to just one constituency.
Secretary to the Boundary Commission for Wales, Shereen Williams, said: “We’re confident that our proposals are a strong first attempt to create a workable map of 32 Welsh constituencies.
“The purpose of our initial proposals however is to start the conversation about how the new map will look.
“Nobody will know your local area as well as you do, so get involved in the consultation and let us know your views.
“As we proceed with the review, we’re highly likely to make some changes to our proposals, so your responses to the consultation could make a significant difference.”
The new proposals and consultation portal are available on the Boundary Commission for Wales website, www.bcw-reviews.org.uk.
The consultation period will close on November 3.
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader described the UK Government’s plan to reduce the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 32 as “the most recent of steps on the Tory pathway to taking back control to Westminster”.
MP Liz Saville Roberts added: “Year after year the Tories have introduced changes to electoral arrangements that seek to tighten their grip on power.”