Jesmond could have two MPs

Boundary review proposals would split Jesmond in half and result in two different MPs representing the ward, JesmondLocal can exclusively reveal.

Initial plans for new parliamentary constituencies as drawn up by the Boundary Commission would carve Jesmond in two, resulting in North Jesmond having a different MP to South Jesmond. It would mean, for example, that Fern Avenue, currently in the centre of the Jesmond ward, would have two different MPs and six different councillors. Watch this video report by JesmondLocal chief reporter Sophie Bauckham to find out more:

Currently, Newcastle has three constituencies – Central, East and North – and the whole of Jesmond falls into the Newcastle East constituency.

But the new proposal divides Newcastle and the surrounding areas into four constituencies, placing North Jesmond ward into the Newcastle Central seat, and South Jesmond into the Newcastle South seat.

The Boundary Commission’s proposals, that were published last month, are part of the government’s plan to equalise constituency size across the country, and to reduce the number of MPs to 600, by  the next general election in 2015.

The political implications of another boundary review had already caused a stir, yet the published plans have been more controversial than expected.

Sources within local government have told JesmondLocal that although there is concensus that equalising constituency size across the country gives fairer representation, there is concern that the proposals completely ignore any local or community identity.

These concerns are not just limited to Jesmond, but stretch to neighbouring Heaton too, which is also facing division along Chillingham Road.

North Heaton Liberal Democrat councillor Greg Stone told JesmondLocal: “I can see what the national proposals are trying to do in terms of reducing the numbers of MPs. However the difficulty is trying to create constituencies of relatively equal, whilst respecting natural communities. And I’m not sure the current proposals have got the jigsaw pieces all fitting together as well as they could, for Newcastle at least.

“It is important that constituents have access to representation in parliament. But clearly for the wider interests of the community they live in, it would be better if we had some rational proposals,” said Stone. “With regards to splitting Jesmond or Heaton down the middle, perhaps we can do a better job than that.”

The proposals will be subject to consultation over the next two years. The first public hearing for the Newcastle area is being held in the Civic Centre on 14th and 15th November. For more information, or to view the proposals, visit the Boundary Commission’s website.

How would the proposed changes affect you or the Jesmond community? Should Jesmond be kept in one constituency. Does it really matter? Tell us you thoughts.