Boundary changes: How Sheffield’s political map could be redrawn

Final plans to redraw the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies in Sheffield have been published.

The Boundary Commission for England has issued its last recommendations for a shake-up designed to ensure population sizes represented by the city's MPs are roughly equal – part of a national review ordered in 2011 that began in earnest two years ago.

The proposed new constituencies for Sheffield. Picture: Boundary Commission

In Sheffield, there would be five constituencies: Sheffield Central, Hallam, South, South East and North & Ecclesfield. Penistone & Stocksbridge – held by Angela Smith today – would be split, with the new areas of Barnsley West & Stocksbridge and Colne Valley & Penistone created.

Neighbourhoods will also find themselves in new districts. Jordanthorpe and Batemoor, part of Louise Haigh’s Sheffield Heeley patch, would fall within Hallam; Nether Edge and Sharrow, represented by Paul Blomfield in Sheffield Central, would be incorporated into Sheffield South while Crookes, part of Jared O’Mara's Hallam constituency, is to become part of Central. Burngreave and Grimesthorpe, represented by Gill Furniss of Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough, would switch to South East, held by Clive Betts.

The proposals are a departure from the initial plans set out in 2016, when the seat of Sheffield Hallam & Stocksbridge was suggested.

Presently each of Sheffield’s MPs are drawn from the Labour Party except O’Mara, who became an independent when he resigned the whip in July.

Today's constituencies in Sheffield. Picture: Boundary Commission

Nationally, Labour has opposed the changes, which would come into force at the next election in 2022. Overall, the number of seats in the House of Commons would drop from 650 to 600; Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North seat would go, as would former Brexit secretary David Davis’ constituency of Haltemprice and Howden.

The commission said more than 35,000 comments from the public were taken into account ahead of its final report.

Sam Hartley, secretary to the commission, said: “We’re confident the map we propose is the best match of the legal rules Parliament has set us. It’s now up to Parliament to decide whether these boundaries will be used at the next general election.”

A date for when MPs will discuss the proposals, which need parliamentary approval, has yet to be fixed. 

The Houses of Parliament - the number of MPs in the Commons would fall from 650 to 600.

The shadow Cabinet Office minister Cat Smith argued the Conservative government was ‘clamouring to tighten its grip on power’ as the UK’s exit from the EU approaches.

“With the workload of MPs set to rise after Brexit, with thousands of pieces of important legislation expected to come through parliament, it would be utterly ludicrous to go ahead with these boundary changes.”

Meanwhile the Electoral Reform Society said the Commons’ capacity to provide independent scrutiny would suffer.

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the ERS, said: “Cutting the number of MPs with Brexit around the corner would be like a company laying off its staff having just secured a major new contract. Backbench scrutiny will be needed more than ever after we leave, making this cut hugely irresponsible.

“If the cut in the size of parliament is not matched by a cut in the size of the government, these changes would amount to an executive power grab, with the highest ever proportion of MPs duty-bound to vote with the government. Fewer backbench MPs means reduced scrutiny of government decisions.”

Constituencies currently vary in England from about 55,000 to 95,000 voters. By law, every area the commission proposes must contain between 71,031 and 78,507 electors. The number of constituencies in Yorkshire and the Humber would reduce from 54 to 50.

Visit www.bce2018.org.uk to see the maps.

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