Massive Sheffield electoral map shake-up: How it will affect your area

Sheffield's electoral boundaries are being redrawn
Sheffield's electoral boundaries are being redrawn
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A massive planned shake-up of electoral boundaries will see one Sheffield constituency disappear - with all the others substantially altered.

The Penistone and Stocksbridge seat, currently held by Labour MP Angela Smith, is to be scrapped in favour of combined new constituency largely made up wards that are part of the Sheffield Hallam constituency held by Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg.

The Boundary Commission for England have announced proposals that will reduce the number of MPs across the country and even out the boundaries so population sizes represented by each MP are roughly similar.

Sheffield will see its number of MPs drop from the current six - Paul Blomfield in Sheffield Central, Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam, Louise Haigh in Sheffield Heeley, Clive Betts in Sheffield South East, Gill Furniss in Brightside and Hillsborough and Angela Smith in Penistone and Stocksbridge - to five.

The proposed new Sheffield constituencies are to be called Sheffield South; Sheffield East; Sheffield Central and West; Sheffield Hallam and Stocksbridge; Sheffield North and Ecclesfield.

The most controversial changes relate to the proposed Sheffield Hallam and Stocksbridge constituency.

It is intended it will be made up of one ward from the existing Sheffield Heeley constituency - Beauchief and Greenhill; three wards from the existing Sheffield Hallam constituency, which are Dore and Totley, Fulwood, and Stannington; and two wards from the existing Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency - Stocksbridge and Upper Don ward, and the Penistone East ward.

A spokesman for the Boundary Commission said: "We recognise that our proposed Sheffield Hallam and Stocksbridge constituency is geographically large, stretching from the southern suburbs of Sheffield to the towns and villages to the west of Barnsley.

"However, we consider it necessary to construct such a constituency if we are to keep all of South Yorkshire’s constituencies within five per cent of the electoral quota.

"The wards that make up the existing constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge have been redistributed between our proposed constituencies of Barnsley Central, Colne Valley, Sheffield Hallam and Stocksbridge, and Sheffield North and Ecclesfield.

"We considered this redistribution necessary in order to reduce by one the number of constituencies in South Yorkshire."

Neither Angela Smith or Nick Clegg wished to comment on the proposed changes.

Under the proposed changes, Beighton and Mosborough will move out of the Sheffield South East constituency to the Rother Valley constituency.

The Sheffield East constituency will include Woodhouse and Darnall, which are both currently in Clive Betts' Sheffield South East seat, as well as Burngreave, Shiregreen and Brightside, which currently fall under the Brightside and Hillsborough consitutency of Gill Furniss. It will also include Brinsworth and Catcliffe, which are part of Sarah Champion's Rotherham consitutency.

The new Sheffield South constituency will include Graves Park, Gleadless Valley and Arbourthorne from Louise Haigh's Sheffield Heeley constituency, the Nether Edge and Manor Castle wards from Paul Blomfield's Sheffield Central constituency and the Birley ward currently represented by Clive Betts.

The proposed Sheffield Central and West constituency will be made up of three wards from Mr Blomfield's existing Sheffield Central constituency – Broomhill, Walkley, and Central wards. It also includes two wards from the existing Sheffield Hallam constituency of Nick Clegg - Ecclesall and Crookes.

The proposed new Sheffield North and Ecclesfield constituency will include Hillsborough, Southey and Firth Park from the current Brightside and Hillsborough seat, as well as the East Ecclesfield and West Ecclesfield wards from Penistone and Stocksbridge . It will also include the ward of Keppel in Rotherham.

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, has strongly attacked new proposals for Parliamentary constituencies, which he says will hit Sheffield and other big cities:

“These proposals are designed to cut representation in our big cities like Sheffield," he said.

"The Tories are driving this through for political advantage. I spoke against similar proposals in the last Parliament, which were dropped.

"Everybody agrees that constituencies should be roughly equal size, but most people are shocked to find out it’s not based on population, but on the number of registered voters at one point in time.

"That means in the big cities, where people move more often, they’re less likely to be on the register. When the Tories introduced the new system of individual voter registration in 2014, millions dropped off the register.

"The Government changed the rules to draw up these boundaries on the register, as at December 2015, when they knew it would be at its lowest in our cities. They ignored warnings from the independent Electoral Commission. Two million people have registered since December 2015, most notably in the run up to the EU referendum. But those people won’t count. This is electoral fraud.”

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said: "“Based on these proposals we are confident that we can hold all of our current held seats and gain at least one in Cambridge.

“This is the start of a long process and we expect many of the proposed boundaries to change dramatically before the final proposals are put forward in 2018, as they did last time.

“We do, however, have serious concerns about the way this is being done.

"These proposed boundaries have been drawn up on a flawed basis, based on out of date information from 2015. More than two million people who registered to vote ahead of the EU referendum are not included and many council wards and boundaries have changed since then. We believe these significant changes adversely affect urban areas the most and therefore would create an unfair political advantage for the Conservatives.

"Tory claims that this process will lead to 'equal votes of equal value' are plain wrong. This process will still leave a plethora of safe seats across the country, and millions of votes which don't count. Only root and branch reform of the electoral system will allow every voice and every voter to be heard."

The plans are part of reforms which would see the House of Commons reduce from 650 MPs to 600. A public consultation is now under way and final proposals will not be made until 2018.

The number of MPs will be cut from 533 to 501 in England, from 59 to 53 in Scotland, from 40 to 29 in Wales, and from 18 to 17 in Northern Ireland, with the aim of ensuring that each constituency - with a couple of exceptions in the Isle of Wight, the Western Isles and Orkney and Shetland - have broadly similar populations.

Constitution minister Chris Skidmore said the Government was "committed to ensuring fair and equal representation for the voting public across the UK is in place by the next general election". The process would save taxpayers £66 million over five years by cutting the number of MPs.

"Our democracy and our parliamentary system need to represent everyone equally," said Mr Skidmore. "That's why the independent Boundary Commissions are proposing measures to achieve equal-sized constituencies that will ensure an equal say for each voter. As it stands, some constituencies have twice as many electors as other constituencies and that cannot be right."

Sam Hartley, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, denied that the Conservatives had influenced the proposals.

He told BBC Radio Four's Today programme: "It's absolutely not the case. Every MP's view is worth the same as every member of the public's."

Mr Hartley said the organisation did attempt to minimise the changes caused by the review.

"That is difficult under the new rules we've been set," he added.

A public meeting will take place in Sheffield about the changes on October 17 at Sheffield Town Hall between 10am and 8pm.

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