Posted: 08.06.21 at 12:27 by Hannah Corfield
Devon is set to gain an extra MP under proposals for a shake-up of England’s electoral map in 2023 – with major changes planned for other constituencies.
Across the South West, the region has been allocated 58 constituencies – an increase of three from the current number – which includes an extra seat in Devon, albeit a cross-boundary division including parts of Somerset.
A seat straddling Devon and Cornwall – the infamous ‘Devonwall’ proposal – has been avoided but the Commission said it had “not always been possible to allocate whole numbers of constituencies to individual counties."
A proposed Tiverton and Minehead constituency will cross the county boundary between Somerset and Devon.
Across Devon, main changes include the splitting of the existing Tiverton and Honiton seat held by Neil Parish into a Tiverton and Minehead and a new Honiton constituency.
The Tiverton and Minehead constituency would cover Tiverton, Uffculme, Willand, and Bampton, as well as the ‘West Somerset’ section of the existing Bridgwater and West Somerset seat.
The Honiton constituency would comprise of Cullompton, the existing areas of East Devon it serves, as well as areas around Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary, currently in the East Devon seat.
A new Exmouth constituency would be created, comprising the remainder of the existing East Devon seat, but also see part of the Priory ward in Exeter, covering the area around Wonford and Burnthouse Lane move from the Exeter constituency into the Exmouth constituency.
The seats of Newton Abbot, North Devon, Torbay and Central Devon are proposed to be broadly unchanged, although Poltimore would move into the latter from East Devon.
Torridge and West Devon would be renamed Torridge and Tavistock, and see the area around Crapstone, Buckland Monachorum and Meavy moved into the South West Devon constituency, which would in turn lose the area around Modbury, Kingston and Bigbury into the Totnes constituency.
In Plymouth, the proposal divides the Peverell ward between the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, and Plymouth Moor View constituencies in order to keep change elsewhere to a minimum and to allow for the Devonport ward to remain in a maritime constituency.
The proposed changes would leave Devon with 13 MPs – up one on the existing 12 – although one would be split across Devon and Somerset.
The proposals from the Boundary Commission for England says the aim is to make Parliament fairer by giving each MP a roughly similar number of voters, which involves redrawing and renaming some seats.
The total number of seats in the House of Commons will stay at 650 but population changes mean England is set to have 543 MPs, Wales 32 and Scotland 57 – that is an extra 10 for England, with Wales losing eight and Scotland’s count cut by two
The review is designed to end the discrepancies in the current system with some MPs having only 50,000 constituents and others having double that, and seats will be redrawn so they have, by law, between 69,724 and 77,062 registered voters each, although some island constituencies, such as the Isle of Wight and Anglesey, being given special dispensation to be outside these requirements.
The Boundary Commission is consulting on the initial proposals for an eight-week period, from June 8 to August 2.
A spokesman said: “We encourage everyone to use this opportunity to help us shape the new constituencies – the more responses we receive, the more informed our decisions will be when considering whether to revise our proposals.
"Our consultation portal at www.bcereviews.org.uk has more information about our proposals and how to give us your views on them.”
A second consultation with public hearings will then get under way in spring 2022, followed by a final four-week consultation on revised plans in autumn 2022.
Final recommendations are due by July 1, 2023, after which the government has four months to implement the plans.
The changes will only come into effect in late 2023, but if a General Election is called before the new boundaries are in place, the election would be fought on the old boundaries.