It’s not unexpected but the Boundary Commission has decided to reduce the seven Parliamentary constituencies of Gateshead, South Tyneside, and Sunderland to six constituencies. The news, leaked on the Guido Fawkes blog, shows that in the North East region, Jarrow and Hebburn merge with East Gateshead. This means that one Labour safe seat will go, and a possible battle between Gateshead’s Ian Mearns and Jarrow’s Stephen Hepburn.
South Shields constituency will gain two wards:
…the wards of Boldon Colliery, and Cleadon and East Boldon of the Borough of South Tyneside, which are in the existing Jarrow constituency, in our proposed South Shields constituency.
Despite the gain of these areas, in a stallwart Labour town like South Shields they’ll make little difference to the seat outcome.
The proposed new Jarrow and Gateshead East constituency will take the remaining Jarrow and Hebburn wards, including four ward from Gateshead.
It’s sure to create some concern in the constituency. As is regularly seen in the letter page of the Shields Gazette, many people in Jarrow and Hebburn already feel their constituency comes second to South Shields in the South Tyneside recognition stakes, and I think this may be interpreted as a worse alternative; being part of a constituency that isn’t part of the South Tyneside ward system.
In a Labour heartland, many will also see this as a cynical attempt to whittle down Labour safe seats in Parliament. Looking at it objectively though, it’s down to cold hard numbers, although you could challenge the seemingly arbitrary limits used by the Boundary Commission.
These are the initial proposals so it’s not yet a done deal. The changes are out for consultation from tomorrow, up until the 15th December. So you have a say – use it. Follow the link above for more details.