What the boundary review means for you
The Boundary Commission has unveiled its revised proposals for parliamentary constituencies across the country. This may impact your future representation in Parliament.
Here's everything you need to know, including the purpose of the boundary review, its proposals, and how you can have your say.
About the Boundary Commission
The Boundary Commission is reviewing the 650 parliamentary constituencies across the United Kingdom to ensure they all have roughly the same number of people. With a few exceptions, every parliamentary constituency in the country should include 69,724 to 77,062 voters.
A review of parliamentary boundaries is also long overdue - a number of parliamentary constituencies are now far too small and some far too large. For example, the constituency of Arfon had only 42,215 voters in 2019, whereas there were 99,523 in Bristol West. This means it takes fewer votes to elect an MP in Arfon than Bristol West - and therefore not all votes are equally weighted. That's why constituencies need a similar number of voters.
Due to population changes, England will gain ten parliamentary seats in the review, while Scotland loses two and Wales eight. The number of seats in Northern Ireland will stay the same.
What about the Orpington constituency?
The Orpington constituency is slightly too small with only 69,102 voters (the minimum is 69,724). That means the boundaries of the constituency will need to change to increase the electorate.
What were the Boundary Commission's initial proposals and why did I oppose them?
Originally, the Commission proposed to move Petts Wood and Knoll Ward out of the Orpington constituency and into a new one with, amongst others, Bromley Town and Hayes and Coney Hall. It then proposed to add what was - until the local elections of May this year - known as Cray Valley West Ward, which is currently in the Bromley and Chislehurst constituency.
However, I disagreed with the proposal to remove Petts Wood and Knoll Ward from the Orpington constituency. Since the constituency was created in 1945, the ward has been at its heart. Indeed, the ward extends to Orpington High Street itself and there are very strong community links.
I wrote to the Boundary Commission setting out why I thought Petts Wood and Knoll Ward would stay, as under their initial proposals, the Member of Parliament for Orpington could represent the eastern side of the town centre but not the west. It would have been a bizarre state of affairs which would have left some Orpington residents writing to Bromley Town's MP, not Orpington's MP, about concerns in the town centre.
What is the Boundary Commission's revised proposal?
Under the revised proposals, I'm pleased that Petts Wood and Knoll Ward will stay in the Orpington constituency. The former Cray Valley West Ward will also join the constituency, which would be a sensible addition given St Mary's Cray is already in the constituency. This means that both Cray wards - St Mary Cray and St Paul's Cray - will now be part of the new Orpington constituency.
However, Biggin Hill Ward and the western part of Darwin Ward will join a newly titled parliamentary constituency called Bromley and Biggin Hill. I would be disappointed to see this happen, but I understand the Commission's difficulty in equalising 75 parliamentary constituencies within Greater London.
This proposal does make more sense than the Commission's plan to divide Orpington town centre by removing Petts Wood and Knoll Ward. It would also be welcome to see a parliamentary constituency bearing the name Biggin Hill. But it's important Biggin Hill and affected Darwin Ward residents have their say.
How can you have your say?
You have until 5th December to have your say, and you can easily do so by visiting the Commission's website: bcereviews.org.uk. If you type in your postcode, you can see the Commission's proposals on a map. You can respond to the consultation by clicking 'make a comment' and submitting your concerns.
When will the new boundaries be agreed?
Following the second consultation, which closes on 5th December, the Commission will finalise its proposals by July 2023. The new parliamentary boundaries will be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Commons, who will, within four months, lay the proposals, so they come into effect in autumn 2023. These revised 650 parliamentary constituents will elect their new representatives at the next General Election.
In short, nothing will change for now. I will continue to be your Member of Parliament and stand up for everyone within the Orpington constituency until the next General Election.