Council concern at boundary changes

PONTELAND Town councillors have voiced their concerns over proposed boundary changes.

If the Boundary Commission for England’s shake-up is adopted it would have a dramatic effect on Guy Opperman’s Hexham constituency, which includes the town.

Ponteland East would be transferred into the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency and Haltwhistle and South Tynedale would be placed into a newly-created Consett and Barnard Castle constituency.

The MP is fighting the plans and now Ponteland Town Council has put forward its objections as part of the consultation process.

In a letter to the Boundary Commission, the members say: “We understand that a large city such as Newcastle, some eight miles away, needs to be divided. However, in our case, to have a small rural town divided and part of it taken into another constituency does not really make sense.

“Ponteland has some 8,000 voters split into four wards of approximately 2,000 per ward.

“Generally, when one person in Ponteland has an issue of some sort then all around are likely to have the same view. This means that the current MP is now able to deal with the whole town and not just part of it. Hexham is only some 14 miles away from Ponteland. Berwick is some 60 miles north of our town. How easy is it to get to Berwick to visit the MP’s surgery?

“A more suitable arrangement would be to retain Ponteland East ward in the Hexham constituency, with Rothbury returned to the Berwick constituency, Derwent Valley-based communities transferred to the new Consett and Barnard Castle constituency and Haltwhistle and South Tynedale communities retained in the Hexham constituency.”

There is still time for residents to have their say on the proposals. Write to The Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ, or email reviews@bcommengland.x.gsi.gov.uk by December 5.