Have your say on changes to boundaries

The proposed boundaries, with Morpeth in the new Hexham and Morpeth constituency; the disappearance of the Wansbeck constituency; and Ponteland East and Stannington in the Newcastle North West constituency.

The proposed boundaries, with Morpeth in the new Hexham and Morpeth constituency; the disappearance of the Wansbeck constituency; and Ponteland East and Stannington in the Newcastle North West constituency.

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Have your say

Many people will be aware that the Independent Boundary Commission for England (BCE) is proposing radical changes to Parliamentary Constituency boundaries in time for the next scheduled General Election in 2020.

The number of constituencies in the whole country would be reduced from 650 to 600. The stated aim of the changes is to try to equalise as far as possible the number of voters in the different constituencies.

I have to say that the groupings of towns, villages and communities to make up the proposed constituencies are bizarre, to say the least.

The North East has been allocated 25 constituencies under the proposals, a reduction of four on the status quo.

In Northumberland the number would go down from four to three, with the ‘casualty’ being Wansbeck. The new Parliamentary map would include expanded Berwick and Ashington, Hexham and Morpeth and Blyth Valley constituencies, with parts of our current Wansbeck being divided among all three.

Of course, as the sitting Member of Parliament for Wansbeck I have a vested interest in whether or not these proposals become reality. Putting that to one side, however, I have to say that the groupings of towns, villages and communities to make up the proposed constituencies are bizarre, to say the least.

Morpeth and Ashington would become part of huge geographical constituencies stretching to the western boundary of Northumberland and up to the Scottish Borders, making it, in my view, very difficult for whoever represents them at Westminster to properly look after voters and communities with very differing needs and issues.

However, they are just proposals and we are at the start of a vital 12-week consultation period, during which everyone will have the chance to tell the BCE what they like or do not like about the changes being put forward.

It is important that people take the chance to do that, and there are a number of ways to make your views known. You can write to the BCE at 35 Great Smith Street, London SW1 3BQ, or visit www.bce2018.org.uk

Finally, there will be a chance to appear before a commissioner at the Royal Station Hotel in Newcastle on Monday, November 14 and Tuesday, November 15.

The consultation period will run until December 5, with the Commission due to report to Parliament in 2018.

I would urge everyone to read the BCE report and to comment so that the Commission can come to a view based on what people truly think about what would be best for the area in which they live and work.

• On a different note, two events are coming up in the next few weeks presenting wonderful opportunities to showcase all that’s best about the commercial and business sectors of Morpeth.

First, what has become a popular annual food and drink festival returns on Saturday, October 1.

Now in its fourth year, the event attracts thousands of people to enjoy food, drink and craft products produced in Northumberland.

Organisers say this will be the biggest and best festival yet, with dozens on stalls in Bridge Street, the Market Place and the Town Hall, as well as competitions, cookery demonstrations and music.

What the event also does is to show visitors what a great place Morpeth is to come to for a day out — something local people already know all about.

Later in October the first Heart of Morpeth business awards will be presented to some of those who make up the town’s retail, commercial and leisure offer.

Organised by Morpeth Town Team with the support of Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade, Morpeth Town Council and Sanderson Arcade, the awards will offer the opportunity to celebrate just why Morpeth has built up its enviable reputation as a premier modern market town.

The awards will celebrate the achievements of businesses that make the town centre of Morpeth the great place it is to shop, do business and enjoy time.

Unfortunately, because of Parliamentary duties I will be unable to attend, but I offer my congratulations to all those who have been shortlisted. They all deserve the recognition coming their way.

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