WALES – The new map of Wales: Nation’s MPs cut by 10 as boundaries are redrawn

Far-reaching boundary changes that will change the political map of Wales are published today with many MPs facing the battle of their lives to remain in Westminster after the next General Election.

The number of MPs being elected from Wales will be reduced from 40 to 30, and the Boundary Commission for Wales has drawn up proposals that create wholly new seats.

Some old constituency names are being retained, but in many cases new ones have been created to reflect new geographical entities.

In industrial South Wales, a number of existing seats disappear. Cynon Valley, represented for 30 years by veteran Labour MP Ann Clwyd, will be split between a new Heads of the Valleys seat, also covering the current Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney constituency, an expanded Rhondda seat and a larger Pontypridd seat.

See also: Tories and Lib Dems will lose most as number of MPs is cut

The current Ogmore constituency will be split, with some of it going into a new seat called Aberavon and Ogmore and the rest into an expanded Bridgend seat.

One of the most curious of the new creations is Newport West and Sirhowy Valley, comprising part of the present Newport West seat but also taking in part of Islwyn and the lower Rhymney Valley, currently in Caerphilly.

An expanded Monmouthshire seat will take in all of the present Monmouth constituency as well as parts of Newport East and Newport West. A new Newport Central seat will take in parts of the current Newport East and Newport West constituencies.

A significant part of the present Caerphilly seat has been lumped in with parts of the existing Cardiff North constituency to form a new Caerphilly and Cardiff North seat.

The other Cardiff seats are also shaken up, with a new Cardiff Central and Penarth seat and a new Cardiff East seat. The existing Cardiff West constituency is expanded to take in parts of the existing Pontypridd and Cardiff North seats.

In the Swansea area, Gower and Swansea West is a new constituency covering much of the former two separate seats.

West Wales sees the recreation of the old Carmarthen seat, with the Welsh name Caerfyrddin. It takes in almost the whole of the current Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seat, together with the eastern part of Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South.

A new South and West Pembrokeshire seat will contain the southern part of the present Preseli Pembrokeshire seat, together with the other part of the existing Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South seat.

The northern part of Preseli Pembrokeshire will be joined with Ceredigion to form a new seat called Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire.

The present Brecon and Radnorshire seat will take in part of Montgomeryshire, while the northern part of the latter seat will join elements of the present Clwyd South, Clwyd West and Vale of Clwyd constituencies to form a new seat called Glyndwr and North Powys.

North Wales will see a new Gwynedd seat formed, made up mainly from the existing Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency and part of Arfon.

The present Ynys Mon seat, which currently covers the island of Anglesey, is being expanded across the Menai Strait to take in the town of Bangor. It will be known as Menai ac Ynys Mon in its new form.

The current Aberconwy seat disappears, with part of it going into Gwynedd, part of it into Menai ac Ynys Mon and part into a new North Wales Coast constituency, which will also take in a significant part of the existing Clwyd West seat.

Delyn will be split between an enlarged Alyn and Deeside seat and a new Dee Estuary constituency, which will include part of the Vale of Clwyd.

Members of the Boundary Commission have been working on the proposals since last February, when the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act was passed, requiring a reduction in the number of UK constituencies from 650 to 600.

Every new seat has to have an electorate within the range of 72,810 and 80,473. In all but one case – Cardiff South and Penarth – the required range is much larger than current constituency sizes in Wales.

The Commission points out that while its proposals meet the statutory criteria, it has also taken into account other relevant factors important to Wales, such as geographical considerations – the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency – local government boundaries, boundaries of existing constituencies and any local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies.

Ben Whitestone, Secretary to the Commission, said: “The Commission has produced a set of initial proposals which meet the requirements of the 2011 Act. It has also taken into account other relevant factors and has sought to identify the solutions most suitable to local needs within Wales. I would emphasise that these are initial proposals and I very much hope that members of the public will participate in the process of consultation which now begins.”

The Commission said it had considered the merits of a number of options. On occasion, apparent solutions had proved not to be viable because they could not be accommodated within the statutory requirement as to the size of the electorate or because of their knock-on effect on other constituencies.

Wales’ four major political parties issued statements reflecting their existing policy positions towards the boundary changes.

A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “These plans, as pushed by the Tory/Lib Dem Government, have always been about reducing Wales’ voice and influence at Westminster. Welsh Labour has opposed the plans on this basis, and continues to do so.

“However, the publication of these initial proposals means that communities can now start the important discussion about the future of democratic representation here in Wales, a process that Welsh Labour will be taking a very firm lead on. We will be considering the proposals in detail, working with our elected representatives and party members to build a consensus on the best way forward for the people of Wales.

“The process will take some time, and Welsh Labour will be focusing on getting the best deal possible for our communities. We will not be engaging in conjecture and speculation.”

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said: “I welcome the UK Government’s moves to cut the cost of politics by reducing the number of MPs and the size of the Commons. This review is about equality and fairness across the UK so everyone’s vote carries an equal weight regardless of where they live.”

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said: “Plaid Cymru opposed the 25% cut in Welsh MPs at Westminster and this is still our position.

“The task of redrawing boundaries was always going to be difficult. Although a number of the proposed new constituencies make sense, there are many proposals where geographical and community links have been ignored in order to reach a specific figure.

“Some of the proposed constituencies are not very practical – there are examples of two totally different communities being put together despite a large mountain separating them, as well as a number of proposals where two villages in the same community have been separated.

“We are also worried by the size of some of the proposed constituencies. The large geographical area of a number of the seats provides a particular challenge in terms of representing constituents. We therefore believe that some of these proposals require further consideration.

“Plaid Cymru will be playing a constructive part in this process and responding in full to these proposals in the coming weeks.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Liberal Democrats said: “We are currently considering the proposals set out by the Boundary Commission and we will be taking part in the consultation process. Any change to constituency boundaries must be fair and democratic.”

If confirmed, the new boundaries will take effect in time for the next General Election, scheduled for 2015.

Constituencies for National Assembly elections are not affected by the proposals.

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