Thank you for replying to my recent survey on the first round of the 2023 Boundary Review proposals.
You contributed to feedback from over 1,000 constituents through the survey, emails and social media. This was a respectable 17.2% response rate, gave me a decent idea of constituent views and enabled me to analyse the data and use it to inform my reply to the Boundaries Commission.
Without your survey I wouldn’t have been able to do this so convincingly - so I’m grateful to all of you.
So what were the results and what did I conclude?
I attach below a copy of my submission to the Commission and you’ll see that I concluded:
- There is very little support for voting for a Tewkesbury rather than a Gloucester MP
- This backs up my instinct (which is to reject the entire proposal), but the mathematics doesn’t allow for that: a flat rejection would be ignored as impractical
- Proposing an entirely different solution has knock on impacts to other constituencies of the county because Wiltshire and Gloucestershire are taken as one area to resolve together
- However I believe that the maths does allow for either all of Barnwood or all of Elmbridge constituents to vote for a Gloucester not a Tewkesbury MP
- So the question I faced was ‘at the margin’ is the case stronger for Elmbridge or Barnwood residents?’
I concluded that the case wasn’t overwhelming one way or the other: the survey returns showed the links to Gloucester were almost equally strong in both wards - the connectivity links alone make the case for both to vote for a Gloucester MP.
However it is true that at the margin there were more survey returns and slightly stronger links evidenced in Barnwood surveys.
I believe a key part of this is that the neighbouring ward to Elmbridge (Longlevens) already votes for a Tewkesbury MP: and that the county division of the two together is known as Longlevens. Elmbridge residents often describe themselves as living in Longlevens.
Barnwood county division is part of the Barnwood and Hucclecote division and Hucclecote ward votes for an MP for Gloucester. So splitting another division at the Barnwood/Hucclecote border makes less sense than residents of both sides of Cheltenham Rd (ie the entire Longlevens division) all voting for the same MP candidates.
There was one other factor beyond the survey returns. The border between Barnwood and Hucclecote is very complicated: whereas the border between Barnwood and Elmbridge is Eastern Avenue and the railway line - a big gap between the two and an understandable constituency border.
So you’ll see that I have very reluctantly conceded that if we have to reduce by a few thousand voters then residents of Barnwood should continue to vote for a Gloucester MP, while to fulfil the Commission requirements Elmbridge residents vote for an MP for Tewkesbury.
In politics you often have to vote not the best solution but the least worst - and being able to reduce the original proposal by half is definitely less bad - and can also be done without in turn making the mathematics of Tewkesbury impossible.
Of course there’s no guarantee that my counter proposal will succeed, but I do have the backing of our local and national party: and I believe the case is a strong one.
It is also possible that the long and winding journey through to ratification (this is the first of two consultations) may not be reached before another election - and no-one would be more pleased than me if that was so. The status quo as is represents the feelings of the City of Gloucester - I’ve no doubt about that.
So let’s we what happens next - and I’ll put something on my FB page @richard4gloucester when the Commission responds to all submissions.
I hope this note, the results of my survey and my submission itself is helpful - please do come back to me with your thoughts and comments.