VOTING boundaries in Coventry are set to be drastically re-drawn in the run up to the upcoming general election in 2020.
Under the Government’s draft proposals to reduce the number of Members of Parliament, the Coventry North West Constituency will be abolished and replaced by a new Coventry West and Meriden constituency including Solihull council wards Knowle and Meriden.
The plans, announced by the independent Boundary Commissions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, aim to not only reduce the number of constituencies from 650 to 600, but also require them to have an electorate between 71,000 and 78,500 voters.
As well as the creation of the new Coventry West and Meriden constituency, the boundaries of the Coventry South constituency will also be amended.
The new Coventry West and Meriden constituency will join Solihull’s Meriden and Knowle wards with five Coventry wards – three former Coventry North West wards, Bablake, Holbrook, Woodlands, and Wainbody and Westwood wards from the old Coventry South constituency.
The four remaining wards in the Coventry South constituency – Binley and Willenhall, Cheylesmore, St Michael’s and Earlsdon – will join with former Coventry North West wards Radford, Sherbourne and Whoberley, to form a new, larger Coventry South constituency.
The Coventry North East constituency, currently represented by Labour’s Colleen Fletcher, will not have its boundaries altered and will remain the same.
Around the city, the former Rugby consituency that had bordered the Coventry North East and Coventry South consituencies to the east would be amalgamated into a larger Nuneaton constituency, spanning from Nuneaton town to the north to neighbouring Rugby borough ward of Revel and Binley Woods to the east of the city.
A map showing the old constituency boundaries in blue and the new proposed boundaries in red.
Explaining the proposed changes, the Boundary Comission for England said: “We noted that the electorate of the City of Coventry is too small to continue to be allocated three whole constituencies.
“We propose that the existing Coventry North East constituency be left unchanged.”
Long-serving Labour MP for Coventry North West, Geoffrey Robinson, has hit out at the proposals, drawn up by the current Conservative Government, branding them ‘unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable.’
He said: “Constitutional changes should be done fairly and consensually, to ensure that everyone given a voice.
“That is not the case with these changes which are more about what is best for the Tory Party.
“These changes should not go ahead.
“We need to rethink and ensure that no elector loses out.”
Mr Robinson argues the proposals were drawn up prior to June’s EU referendum, which saw nearly two million people rush join the electoral register to vote – meaning the boundary changes will not have taken into account these voters into consideration.
He also rubbished Conservative claims that the reduction in the number of MPs is part of a conscious effort to cut the cost of politics – pointing to the 250 additional peers welcomed to the House of Lords under the Conservatives.
Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry South, echoed his fellow MP’s views and urged residents to have their say on the proposals.
He added: “These changes to the boundaries are clearly unfair and are being done without giving the people of Coventry a voice.
“It looks like the Tories are trying to stitch up the boundaries in their favour.
“Boundary changes should be done consensually and impartially.
“I urge the people of Coventry to let the Boundary Commission know their views and have a voice in this process.”
The proposed changes are part of a periodical review into parliamentary boundaries by the Boundary Commissions to ensure they keep up to date with changes in the number of eligible voters in each area.
And while Coventry residents in the new Coventry West and Meriden constituency would now vote alongside Solihull voters from Meriden and Knowle to elect their MP, each ward will still be governed by its respective council.