Yesterday I submitted my comments to the current phase of the consultation which ends on March 27th. This phase allows us to view and respond to comments made by other people on the Boundary Commission Initial Proposals. I highlight just some of the points I made here.
I read the comments filtered by current constituency, for Stone, Stoke-on-Trent South, Stoke-on-Trent Central, Stoke-on-Trent North and Newcastle-under-Lyme only.
There were two key themes. Firstly there is very considerable support for the Boundary Review Initial Proposals, particularly for placing Kidsgrove in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Secondly there is significant disagreement about where the boundary between Stoke-on-Trent South and West Staffordshire should lie, very particularly in the Dresden area but also in the Blurton and Trentham areas, although there is also support for the West Staffordshire constituency.
Dresden & Florence
The biggest issue seems to be dislike of the Stoke-on-Trent South / West Staffordshire boundary being placed between the Lightwood & Normacot and Dresden & Florence wards. The concerns include that this splits one coherent community, Dresden & Florence is an urban area with an industrial history that has nothing in common with rural country hamlets, Longton would be separated from its town park and the councillors for the two wards work closely together and it is easier to work with one MP. Some of the alternatives proposed have too severe a knock on effect for the Newcastle-under-Lyme area which has met with approval. But notably the revised proposal I submitted solves this problem by uniting these two wards in Stoke-on-Trent South whilst leaving Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency as proposed by the Boundary Commission.
There is some concern about Blurton wards being in West Staffordshire. I would actually agree that their character is more akin to Stoke-on-Trent South. My proposal is flawed because it does not address this but I am unable to find a good solution that will which does not have less acceptable knock on effects elsewhere.
Trentham & Hanford
Concerns that have been submitted include a dislike for the Trentham & Hanford ward being in the West Staffordshire constituency in terms of a lack of commonality between communities, poor transport and having wards from 3 local authorities.
A personal view on Trentham:
Quite a number of contributors have discussed community identity, where a community faces, where its centre of place is and where people typically shop. This has prompted me to think about this more deeply for myself in Trentham. Personally I am quite happy with being in the new West Staffordshire constituency.
There are actually two parts of Trentham, the larger residential area including where I live, in Stoke-on-Trent and a smaller residential area and large leisure and shopping area ‘The Trentham Estate’, which are situated in Swynnerton & Oulton ward in Stafford Borough. The Trentham Estate has developed massively in recent years and includes Trentham Shopping Village. The West Staffordshire constituency would actually unite these two parts of Trentham. So there may be concerns about the new constituencies but there are also advantages.
Where do I shop? Because I am an outdoor type of person with a love of the countryside and walking, in actual fact I do most of my shopping for clothes and equipment in Trentham Shopping Village because it has a number of very good shops for outdoor kit and some other clothes shops. But I also travel to Hanley, Stafford and further afield if necessary for such things. In terms of food shopping I actually do a fair bit of that in Stone, but that is because a fair amount of my personal, social and leisure time is spent there. I am currently chair of Stone Ramblers. But I also shop for food all over the place as convenient.
Perhaps I fit well in West Staffordshire constituency because I am willing and able to travel. But for some others in Trentham the picture may be very different.
I consider that my proposals are still best as far as West Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent South and Stoke-on-Trent North are concerned and retain Newcastle-under-Lyme as in the Boundary Commission Initial Proposals.
My proposals would alter the Boundary Commission Initial Proposals as follows:
- Move Dresden & Florence ward from West Staffordshire to Stoke-on-Trent South.
- Move Springfields & Trent Vale ward from Stoke-on-Trent South to West Staffordshire.
- Move Abbey Hulton & Townsend ward from Stoke-on-Trent North to Stoke-on-Trent South.
- Move Hanley Park & Shelton ward from Stoke-on-Trent South to Stoke-on-Trent North.
- Move Joiner's Square ward from Stoke-on-Trent South to Stoke-on-Trent North.