Boundary changes: will we get a new MP too?

Yesterday I wrote about the revised County Council ward boundaries, which will leave many residents round here finding themselves in different wards for different council elections. This may not be the case in the long term, however. Let’s look at the future for the City Council, and for the parliamentary constituency.

Cambridge City Council

As I explained yesterday, the new County Council ward boundaries have come about because that council only wants 12 representatives from the city instead of 14. For the time being, the City Council will continue to use the old 14 wards.

Each of these wards sends 3 councillors to the City Council, making a total of 42 on that council. But could the City Council realign its wards with the County Council’s 12, and have just 36 councillors? A lot of people think that it should.

If one were to be cynical, we might predict that a decision (if any) will be made after next May’s County Council election, when the political parties can see who’s been most favoured by that council’s new ward boundaries. My best guess is that the party which currently has the majority on the City Council (Labour) would find itself at least 4 seats down under such an arrangement, and possibly worse. So it would be unlikely to set the ball rolling in that direction. For the sake of neatness and comprehensibility, that would be a shame.

The Parliamentary Constituency

There is another institution which we vote for that might be changing soon. Like the County Council, the government is also reducing its number of representatives (MPs). In this case, the number is being cut from 650 to 600. While Cambridgeshire as a whole is likely to retain the same number of MPs, the population has shifted and the constituency boundaries need to be redrawn. The Boundary Commission for England is likely to put forward some initial recommendations any day now.

Will this affect us in Queen Edith’s? It’s highly likely that it will.

For many years, there have been too many people living within the Cambridge city boundary for it to be a neat parliamentary constituency. The result has been that the southern wards have been given to constituencies outside the city. Queen Edith’s is the last ward to remain in this situation (Trumpington rejoined the city in 2010). We are, as everyone knows, part of the South Cambridgeshire constituency, and our MP is Heidi Allen. All the other wards in the city are part of the Cambridge constituency, and their MP is Daniel Zeichner.

Looking at the numbers, it would appear that Cambridge would make a perfectly sized constituency under the new arrangement if it could gain a few thousand more people: almost exactly as many as are in Queen Edith’s, as it happens. So I expect a new Cambridge constituency to be announced soon which matches the Cambridge city boundary. This would mean that in the first general election after 2017, we’d be in Cambridge. This is a closely-fought constituency which is usually a battle between the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates, unlike South Cambridgeshire, which is a walk-over for the Conservative candidate. More exciting electorally, to be sure. On the other hand, just as we get a genuinely decent constituency MP, we lose her. That’s politics.

One Reply to “Boundary changes: will we get a new MP too?”

  1. If Queen Edith’s had been part of the city constituency at the last General Election , Julian Huppert, who I believe was Parliament’s only qualified scientist, might well have retained his seat. Shame.

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