Articles

2018 Review: Birmingham & Black Country – full submission

In Birmingham, boundary changes, Dudley, redistricting, Sandwell, Walsall, West Midlands, Wolverhampton on December 12, 2017 by dadge

This counterproposal covers the 26 seats of Birmingham (excluding Sutton Coldfield) and the Black Country (excluding Wolverhampton). The Commission’s proposals for Sutton Coldfield and Wolverhampton proposals are acceptable, although I’m submitting separately a possible improvement to the latter.

The Commission’s revised proposals for the West Midlands region are generally good. When it comes to the West Midlands county itself (excluding Coventry) several serious problems remain. This counterproposal addresses those problems seat by seat. It would be better if the Commission respected metropolitan borough boundaries more, but this counterproposal, whilst not accepting the argument that the flexibility afforded by the Commission’s policy of amorphous blobbism (i.e. treating regions as single units with little respect for the local authority boundaries within them) is necessary, does go along with it: it includes six cross-border seats, only one fewer than in the Commission’s proposals. It also keeps the number of split wards to a minimum: there are four to the Commission’s three.

Here is a summary map of my counterproposals, taken from the interactive Google map at https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1uqlgR6_V01Q023524AzUZWA2EijxAoSK

bce bbc0


1. Aldridge 76,572
18. Walsall 73,255
4. Erdington 73,557
6. Hodge Hill 77,643
3. Birmingham Central 77,926
9. Small Heath 77,267
5. Hall Green 72,658
7. Kings Norton 71,831
8. Northfield 75,118
11. Edgbaston & Warley South 76,863
19. Warley North 71,590
12. Halesowen & Cradley Heath 78,132
16. Stourbridge 72,591
10. Dudley 78,270
20. Wednesbury 72,803
14. Sandwell Valley 76,523

Aldridge, Brownhills & Bloxwich (1)

As per the Commission’s proposals. The name is a bit of a mouthful; I’m just calling it Aldridge. “Walsall Wood” might be a clever name for this seat.

Walsall & Oscott (18)

Problems: (1) the seat excludes Pleck, which is a central part of the town, and (2) it includes the orphan Oscott ward of Birmingham, thereby splitting the Kingstanding/Perry Beeches part of the city between seats.

Solutions: (1) put Pleck back in the seat, and (2) add the Great Barr & Yew Tree ward from West Bromwich. Still an orphan ward, but with better defined margins. Yew Tree and the Delves have always been closely connected. (3) Rename the seat to Walsall Town (rather than simply “Walsall”, in order to distinguish it from the borough).

Erdington & Perry Barr (4)

Problem: inclusion of the Perry Barr ward. In Birmingham terms, the Walsall Road (the heart of the Perry Barr ward) is geographically distant from the communities that make up Erdington. If the Perry Barr ward didn’t have its Witton tail, the idea of joining Perry Barr to Erdington would be out of the question.

(According to the Commission’s report (p 33) no-one proposed adding Perry Barr to Erdington except John Bryant, a member of the public from Kent whom the Commission like to quote because he’s a fundamentalist dissectologist like they are, i.e. he treats the country like a jigsaw and refuses to split wards even when local circumstances and local people suggest otherwise.)

Solutions: (1) Include Oscott ward instead of Perry Barr. Oscott and Kingstanding wards are the two wards that cover the Kingstanding area of north Birmingham – it’d be good not to have them split between seats. (2) Put Castle Vale in the Hodge Hill seat. The Vale is part of Erdington, but it is a self-contained community, with two shopping centres and a clear boundary with the Pype Hayes area. (3) Rename the seat Erdington.

(Note: my preferred option** is still to split the Oscott ward, with the part of Perry Beeches north of the M6 going into the constituency on the other side of the motorway. However, I’m not recommending that here because it doesn’t work as a solution in the context of the Commission’s revised proposals.)

Hodge Hill (6)

Problem: the inclusion of the Stechford ward means that the Yardley area will be split between constituencies. However, retaining the existing constituency boundary would create difficult knock-on effects on other seats. So the southern boundary of the seat is accepted.

Proposal: to add Castle Vale to the seat, in order to bring the size of the Erdington seat within quota. Although the Vale is separated from the rest of the Hodge Hill seat by the M6, the two parts are strongly linked by the A452, and people from Hodge Hill and Washwood Heath shop at the Fort and Castle Vale retail parks.

Ladywood (3)

Problem: Inclusion of the Soho & Victoria ward, an orphan Sandwell ward. This ward is an integral part of the town of Smethwick; therefore the Commission is splitting that town.

Solution: Include the Nechells ward instead. This ward is part of the existing Ladywood constituency, so including it will significantly reduce the amount of change. In order to do this, four polling districts (CTH CTI CTJ CTK) will need to be included in the Small Heath seat. This would actually be a good thing, since it would bring all parts of Bordesley Green and Small Heath together in the same seat.

I suggest renaming the seat to Birmingham Central. There has been a Central seat before, and the name seems appropriate for a seat that includes the Aston area as well as Ladywood.

Yardley (9)

Problems: (1) the name: the centre of Yardley isn’t in the seat; (2) the proposed seat stretches from Sheldon to Aston, a “bacon strip” of wards obviously put together because of the numbers game the Commission is playing.

Solutions: (1) name the seat Small Heath – this name is more appropriate and has a long pedigree. (2) Remove the Nechells ward and replace with Acocks Green, thereby reducing the amount of change to the seat. Add polling districts CTH CTI CTJ CTK from Nechells ward in order to unite the Wyndcliffe and Holy Trinity areas with the rest of Bordesley Green and Small Heath and bring the electorates of this and the Central seat into the permitted range.

Hall Green (5)

Proposals: (1) Remove Acocks Green ward and add Moseley ward, thereby reverting the seat to its current boundaries. (2) Transfer polling district DEG (Swanshurst Park) from Springfield ward to the Kings Norton seat in order to bring that seat up to quota.

Brandwood (7)

Proposals: (1) remove Moseley ward and add Kings Norton ward. This will unite the Bournville-Cotteridge-Kings Norton area along the A441 in one seat. (2) Add polling district DEG (Swanshurst Park) in order to bring the electorate of the seat up to quota. (3) Rename the seat to Kings Norton – a name with pedigree.

Northfield (8)

Problem: the inclusion of Bromsgrove district wards, making up just 7% of the electorate of the seat. My original proposal** respected the county boundary. It isn’t necessary to include Worcestershire wards in a Birmingham seat, and it’s bad practice to do so, but in order to reduce the amount of upheaval in this counter-proposal I’ve left the Rubery wards in the Northfield seat.

Proposal: remove Kings Norton ward and add Bartley Green ward. This reverts the seat largely to its pre-1997 boundaries and unites the areas either side of Shenley Lane.

Edgbaston & Selly Oak (11)

Proposals: (1) Transfer Bartley Green to the Northfield seat, where it used to be. (2) Add the Abbey and Old Warley wards from Sandwell to this seat. These two wards are more suitable for a cross-border seat than the Soho & Victoria ward that the Commission is proposing to add to the Ladywood seat. Brandhall and Bearwood face Quinton and Harborne across the Hagley Road. (3) Rename the seat Edgbaston & Warley South.

Warley (19)

Problems: (1) Includes orphan Dudley ward (St Thomas) which splits Dudley town between seats. (2) Includes only part of Smethwick – Smethwick is split between three seats.

Solutions: (1) Return St Thomas ward to a Dudley seat. (2) Include all three Smethwick wards (Smethwick, Soho/Victoria and St Pauls) in this seat. (3) Add Rowley ward to this seat. It’s not ideal to split the Rowley Regis area, but the Rowley ward does have good links with Tividale and Oldbury. (4) Rename the seat Warley North.

Halesowen & Rowley Regis (12)

Problem: the Netherton ward, which is part of Dudley town, has been included in this seat to make the numbers up.

Solution: Transfer the Netherton ward to the Dudley town seat. In order to facilitate this, transfer the Wollescote/Cradley and Dudley Wood wards from the Stourbridge seat and remove the Rowley ward. On balance, having Wollescote in the Halesowen seat is preferable to having Woodside in the Halesowen seat. (2) Rename the seat Halesowen & Cradley Heath.

Stourbridge (16)

Proposal: move Brierley Hill town centre into this seat. (A lot of the town is in the proposed seat already.) Transfer Cradley/Wollescote and Quarry Bank/Dudley Wood wards to Halesowen seat. Include Wordsley ward, all of Brierley Hill ward, and Brockmoor part of Brockmoor/Pensnett ward in this seat. Possibly rename the seat Stourbridge & Brierley Hill.

Dudley (10)

Problems: This seat includes only half of Dudley town, and half of Brierley Hill.

Solutions: Add the St Thomas and Netherton/Woodside/St Andrew wards to this seat to unite the main parts of the town in one seat. Include Wordsley ward, all of Brierley Hill ward, and the Brockmoor part of Brockmoor/Pensnett ward in the Stourbridge seat. Possibly change the name of the seat to Dudley Castle to distinguish it from the borough.

Darlaston & Tipton (20)

Problems: (1) The Pleck ward from the centre of Walsall has been included in this seat; (2) Friar Park ward (mostly Wednesbury) has been omitted from the seat; (3) the name of the seat omits Wednesbury, which is the main town in the seat.

Solutions: (1) Remove Pleck; (2) add Friar Park ward. Now all the wards that make up Darlaston, Wednesbury and Tipton are in the seat. (3) Rename the seat, either simply to Wednesbury, or possibly to “Wednesbury, Tipton & Darlaston”.

West Bromwich (14)

Problems: (1) Greets Green & Lyng ward has been split; (2) The seat includes part of Smethwick (via a second split ward); (3) the seat includes a Wednesbury ward (Friar Park); (4) the seat includes an orphan Birmingham ward, Handsworth Wood.

Solutions: (1) Keep all of the Greets Green/Lyng ward in the seat, and (2) put all of the St Pauls ward in the Smethwick (“Warley North”) seat; (3) transfer Friar Park ward to the Wednesbury seat.

(4) My original plan** kept Handsworth Wood in a Birmingham seat. In order to base this counter-proposal as closely as possible on the Commission’s revised proposals, I’ve kept the Handsworth Wood ward in the West Bromwich seat. It’s not a very good ward to use for this purpose, since it’s really one of a pair with its neighbouring Lozells/East Handsworth ward, and it’s separated from West Bromwich by Sandwell Valley. However, perhaps a virtue can be made out of this unfortunate choice. If the Perry Barr ward is added to the new seat instead of to the Erdington seat, Handsworth Wood is no longer an orphan, and the seat can be named Sandwell Valley because the seat surrounds it. Perry Barr ward is a reasonable fit: it merges into Sandwell’s Newton ward at Hamstead.

The Commission’s splitting of wards in Sandwell seems somewhat bizarre. The borough really is the poor relation of their redistricting process – not only has the Commission breached its border six times (see map below), it’s unnecessarily split wards in the borough, going against its own policy. The Commission’s policy, as I understand it, is that wards may be split in extremis if the knock-on effects of not doing so would be unacceptable seats elsewhere. In this case the Commission has done the opposite: it’s avoided splitting wards in Birmingham at all costs, leaving loose ends to be tied in Sandwell. What it should have done – and what I have done – is split wards in Birmingham in order to mitigate problems elsewhere.

bce sandwell nos

In the end I split three wards in Birmingham in order to construct better seats both in the city and throughout the sub-region. I submit that that’s a reasonable compromise, and certainly better than the two splits in Sandwell, one of which divides West Bromwich between seats, and the other one of which divides Smethwick between seats.

Summary of improvements:

  1. Pleck is in the Walsall seat.

  2. Oscott is in a Birmingham seat.

  3. There’s no Sandwell ward in the Ladywood seat.

  4. Nechells ward is in the Ladywood seat instead of the Yardley seat.

  5. Hall Green almost unchanged from the existing seat.

  6. Smethwick is united in one seat instead of being split between three seats.

  7. Woodside is in the Dudley seat instead of in the Halesowen seat.

  8. There’s no Dudley ward in a Warley seat.

  9. Dudley town is united in one seat instead of being split between three seats.

  10. Friar Park is in the Wednesbury seat.

  11. No split wards in Sandwell.

Of course, eradicating these faults in the Commission’s revised proposals has required a few compromises to made, but I commend those compromises to you as necessary in order to improve the overall picture of constituencies in Birmingham and the Black Country. Also, the two split wards in Sandwell have been replaced with three split wards in Birmingham, although I hope you’ll agree that the splits are reasonable.

***

A note on wards. The Commission has a policy of not splitting wards. In general terms this a sensible policy, since it reduces the permutations from an infinite number to something more manageable. However, when the law was changed to reduce the permitted leeway in seat size from +/-10% to +/-5% this made the policy unworkable. It reduced the number of possible arrangements in authorities with large wards like Birmingham and Dudley to zero, or close to zero, and blindly pursuing the policy has led the Commission to propose ludicrous “bacon strip” seats and multiple cross-border seats and orphan wards, leeching neighbouring authorities to make up the numbers. The irony of this situation is not lost on psephologists who clearly remember how the Commission insisted for so long that the process was not a numbers game – a position with which the courts agreed.

To see how futile the task is of forming seats in Birmingham on the basis of whole wards, consider the following: the electorate of Birmingham (excluding Sutton Coldfield) is 616,632. Therefore the 36 wards have an average electorate of 17,045. Four whole wards have an average electorate of 68,180 and five whole wards have an average electorate of 85,225. Given that the permitted range is 71,031 to 78,507, it can be seen that it’s impossible to form whole-ward seats in the city, except where through luck there’s the odd ward or two considerably above or below the average size. Hopefully this gives a flavour of how crass the unwillingness to deviate from the whole-ward policy had become.

As a footnote to the footnote, it should also be noticed that (a) the Birmingham wards that the Commission is using as its building blocks are obsolete, having been replaced by new wards last year, and (b) the electorates being used by the Commission are also out of date, having been considerably affected by the registration drives before the EU referendum and the 2017 general election.

Advertisements

Articles

2018 Review: constituency names

In boundary commission on December 11, 2017 by dadge

NORTH EAST

North Durham & Chester-le-Street > North Durham

North Durham includes Chester-le-Street so there’s no need to add it to the name.

Stockton & Yarm > Stockton

Yarm is only 10% of the seat.

Middlesbrough South & Thornaby > West Cleveland

More succinct.

YORKSHIRE/HUMBER

Goole & Axholme > Goole OR Boothferry

Since Howden(shire) is not included in the name, it’s not clear why Axholme is.

Great Grimsby North & Barton > Grimsby North

Great Grimsby South & Cleethorpes > Grimsby South & Cleethorpes

For the sake of brevity.

Upper Calder > Halifax

It’d be a great pity to lose the name of such an important town.

Wentworth & Dearne > Wentworth

Seat no longer contains Dearne.

Sheffield North & Ecclesfield > Sheffield North

One or the other. Ecclesfield is in north Sheffield.

NORTH WEST

West Cumbria > West Cumberland

Because that’s where it is.

Oldham > Oldham North (West)

Failsworth & Droylsden > Oldham South & Droylsden

Oldham is split between these two seats.

Widnes & Runcorn > Halton

Bebington & Heswall > Wirral West

Altrincham & Knutsford > Tatton

Continuity.

EAST MIDLANDS

Broxtowe & Hucknall > Broxtowe

Hucknall is not in Broxtowe district but was traditionally in Broxtowe constituency.

Corby & East Northamptonshire > East Northamptonshire

Corby is in East Northants.

WEST MIDLANDS

Stoke-on-Trent North & Kidsgrove > Stoke North

The seat already contains Kidsgrove.

Aldridge, Brownhills & Bloxwich > Walsall Wood

Walsall & Oscott > Walsall Town

For brevity and to differentiate from the borough.

Birmingham Erdington & Perry Barr> Birmingham Erdington

Only one ward from BPB is in the new seat.

Birmingham Edgbaston & Selly Oak> Birmingham Edgbaston

Only one ward from BSO is in the new seat. S. Oak ward doesn’t include all of S. Oak.

Birmingham Yardley > Birmingham Small Heath

Quite a bit of Yardley is missing from the new seat. BSH is a traditional name.

Darlaston & Tipton > Wednesbury

W. is the main and central town in the seat.

Dudley > Dudley Castle OR Dudley West

Quite a lot of Dudley is missing from the seat. Also for differentiation from the borough.

Hereford & South Herefordshire > Hereford

Revert to previous, and simpler, name.

EAST

Central Suffolk & North Ipswich > Central Suffolk

Brevity.

Huntingdon & St Neots > Huntingdon

Continuity.

LONDON

Chipping Barnet > Barnet & Finchley West

Finchley & Enfield Southgate > Southgate & Finchley East

Finchley is divided between these seats.

Hillingdon & Uxbridge > Uxbridge & Northolt

Acknowledging this is a 2-borough seat.

Ealing & Acton > Acton & Ealing Central

Only includes part of Ealing.

Kilburn > Paddington & Kilburn

A more accurate name.

Camden & St Pancras > St Pancras (& Archway)

Camden is the borough. St Pancras includes Camden Town.

Islington > Islington South & Finsbury

Seat has hardly changed.

Isleworth, Brentford & Chiswick > Brentford & Isleworth

Seat changes don’t justify this name change.

SOUTH EAST

Hove & Regency > Hove

“Regency” isn’t a place; the ward is only 8% of the seat.

Lewes & Uckfield > Lewes

Continuity

Mid Kent & Ticehurst > Mid Kent

Ticehurst is less than 5% of the seat.

East Thanet & Sandwich > South Thanet OR East Thanet

Sandwich is already in the seat.

North Kent Coastal > North Kent Coast

The adjectival ending serves no purpose.

Chatham & The Mallings > Chatham & Aylesford

Continuity.

Rochester & Strood > Rochester

Strood is in Rochester.

SOUTH WEST

Dursley, Thornbury & Yate > Thornbury & Yate

Continuity.

Yeovil & South Somerset > Yeovil

Continuity. Seat hasn’t changed.

Plympton, Tavistock & Ivybridge > South West Devon

Continuity; simplification.

Falmouth, Camborne & Redruth > Falmouth & Camborne

Seat is similar to former seat.

 

Articles

2018 Review: Durham

In boundary changes, North East, redistricting on December 11, 2017 by dadge

For some reason the Commission has decided that the Northumberland border is sacrosanct, even though (a) it’s played fast and loose with county boundaries elsewhere in the country, and (b) doing so produces an unsatisfactory boundary in the Ashington/Bedlington area. Local factors, especially the fact that the Tyne & Wear county boundary is long gone and there are good ties across the border with the neighbouring local authorities, should come into play.

Perhaps the main irony of the Commission’s decision regarding Northumberland is that it has caused them to create a seat (Blaydon) with an orphan ward (Burnopfield) in County Durham, and it’s not clear why a sensible crossing of the Northumberland border would be worse than this rather pathetic crossing of the Durham border. What’s worse, the removal of the Burnopfield ward has unfortunate knock-on effects, in particular the loss of the Framwellgate ward from the Durham city seat. Newton Hall is an integral part of the city. (The fact that the Commission thinks this loss is acceptable demonstrates how it sets too much store by physical characteristics, ignoring administrative, socio-economic and historical factors.) Current boundaries of Durham city (from ordnancesurvey.co.uk/election-maps/):

bce durham

Therefore the main purpose of this counter-proposal is to put the Framwellgate Moor area back into the Durham city seat, and Burnopfield back into a Durham county seat.

BLAYDON

The minimum-change option (with regard to the Revised Proposals), i.e. without needing to cross the Northumberland border, for eliminating the orphan ward is probably as follows:

bce blaydon

Blaydon 76,652

Gateshead West 71,415

Gateshead East 73,497

If the Northumberland border is crossed, the least disruptive option is to include Prudhoe in the Blaydon seat:

bce newc v2

Blaydon 71,402

Newcastle Central 76,027

Newcastle North 74,691

Hexham 77,442

Blyth & Wansbeck 73,869

Berwick & Morpeth 73,286

For boundaries around Morpeth and Cramlington, see my original submission.

Speaking of which, I still think my Hexham & Blaydon and Castle Ward seats are a better arrangement than the Commission’s Blaydon & Newburn and Hexham & Cramlington seats, but either of the above plans is a reasonable compromise.

DURHAM

Now that the Burnopfield ward is no longer being kidnapped, the County Durham seats can be slightly rejigged to allow all of Durham city to be united in one seat:

bce durham rev

North Durham 77,212

North West Durham 74,536

Bishop Auckland 75,434

Sedgefield & Billingham 76,459

Durham & Easington 77,766

Articles

2018 Review: North London versions 2.1 and 2.2

In boundary changes, London, redistricting on December 11, 2017 by dadge

Counterproposal for Enfield, Barnet and Haringey

Problems with the Commission’s Revised Proposals:

Finchley split between 3 seats

Golders Green area split between 2 seats

Wood Green split between 2 seats

Palmers Green split between 2 seats

A seat that stretches from East Finchley to Hadley Wood

Unnecessary split ward in Enfield

Map of Commission’s proposals:

bce finchley

Finchley comprises the 5 wards of West, East, Church End, Woodhouse and Garden Suburb (plus part of Totteridge ward). Currently all 5 (i.e. all of Finchley) are in the Finchley & Golders Green seat.

There are two alternatives in this counterproposal: one (A) keeps all 5 wards together; the other (B) retains Garden Suburb ward in the Hampstead seat, as per the Commission’s proposal.

(A)

barnet enfield

Main advantage of this scheme: all 5 Finchley wards in one seat.

Main disadvantage: Barnet split between seats.

(B)

barnet v2

Advantages of this scheme:

All of Barnet (Chipping, East, Friern) kept together, unchanged from current seat.

Most of Finchley in one seat.

Wood Green and Palmers Green not split between seats.

No split ward.

Disadvantage:

Haringey divided between three seats.

 

Both of these plans are at least as good as that proposed by the Commission but neither requires a split ward.

Articles

2018 Review: Northwich (Cheshire)

In boundary changes, Cheshire, North West, redistricting on December 11, 2017 by dadge

The Commission has so far missed an excellent opportunity to propose a proper Northwich seat. The town has suffered for too long from being split between seats, and the seats in the Revised Proposals perpetuate this problem:

bce northwich0

(The blue line is the border between the Commission’s proposed Weaver Vale and Eddisbury seats.)

If the Frodsham area is included in the Eddisbury seat this can be rectified. (Frodsham was in the Eddisbury constituency up till 1997, and was also in Eddisbury hundred.) Therefore I counter-propose the following arrangement:

bce eddisbury

Weaver Vale 74,877
Halton 75,381
Eddisbury 73,627
Crewe & Nantwich 72,326

Articles

2018 Review: Brighton and Newhaven

In boundary changes, redistricting, South East, Sussex on December 10, 2017 by dadge

In the revised proposals, the knock-on effect of Brighton’s large ward sizes is causing a harmful split in Newhaven, with one third of the town (the Valley ward) included in the Lewes seat.

bce brighton4

Although Sussex can be dealt with generally without split wards, Brighton is a special case. The wards are very large such that creating a Brighton Pavilion seat relies on luck. (Excluding the two-councillor ward (Woodingdean) there are 101,106 electors between 10 wards, an average of 10,111. Now notice that 7×10,111=70,777 and 8×10,111=80,888, both of which totals are outside the permitted range.) That luck has allowed the formation of a seat (Pavilion) that scrapes over the bottom end of the permitted range, but when a seat scrapes over the line in this way it naturally pushes an excess of voters into the neighbouring seat. This is what has happened in the case of Kemptown & Seahaven.

What to do in such a case? One could, rather unreasonably, expect the responsibility for solving the problem to fall on the neighbouring seat, even though it’s not its wards that are the cause of the problem. This is what the Commission have done by looking for a solution in Newhaven. The two suggested solutions: splitting the Denton & Meeching ward, or the loss of the whole Valley ward to Lewes, are both very bad.

Instead, and much more reasonably, we can look to Brighton. On the border between the Kemptown and Pavilion seats is Hanover. Until 2010 all of Hanover was in the Pavilion seat, but some of it is now in the Kemptown seat. (This was caused by the moving of the constituency boundary to the new ward boundary.) This area (polling districts EY and EZ, the area around Windmill Street) can be returned to the Pavilion seat, providing a reasonable solution to the problem.

bce brighton9

Brighton Pavilion 71527 + EY 1238 + EZ 745 = 73510

Brighton Kemptown & Seahaven 76167 + Newhaven Valley 2554 – EY 1238 – EZ 745 = 76738

Lewes 77696 – Newhaven Valley 2554 = 75142

bce brighton10

Articles

2018 Review – West Midlands v2.0

In Birmingham, boundary changes, boundary commission, Coventry, Dudley, News, redistricting, Sandwell, Stoke, Walsall, Warwickshire, West Midlands, West Midlands county, Wolverhampton on October 23, 2017 by dadge

The Commission has published its revised recommendations, and there are many improvements. Warwickshire will now have the sensible arrangement of seats that had been obvious to everyone except the Commission. And they have accepted my proposals for Stoke and Newcastle, which is nice.

The map of Birmingham and the Black Country is looking a bit better, but there are still the following (main) problems:

  1. Pleck removed from Walsall*
  2. Oscott ward in a Walsall seat*
  3. Handsworth Wood in a Sandwell seat
  4. Handsworth split between seats
  5. Oddly shaped Erdington seat going up to the Scott Arms*
  6. Smethwick split between three constituencies*
  7. East Smethwick in a Birmingham seat*
  8. Nechells in a sinuous Yardley seat*
  9. Yardley split between seats
  10. Rubery in a Birmingham seat
  11. Netherton in the Halesowen & Rowley Regis seat*
  12. Dudley town split between seats*
  13. East Dudley town in a Sandwell seat*
  14. Friar Park ward not in the Wednesbury seat*
  15. Greets Green in the Tipton seat*

My counter-proposal (interactive map) solves 11 of those 15 problems (shown by stars), but creates five new ones:

  1. Perry Barr in a Sandwell seat
  2. Yew Tree in a Walsall seat
  3. Castle Vale in the Hodge Hill seat
  4. Bearwood and part of Oldbury in a Birmingham seat
  5. Rowley Regis split between seats

But I think that reducing the overall number of problems from 15 to 9 is quite good going. Also, I’d say we go from having eight bad constituencies (out of 20) to just one (can you guess which one?!) so I think that’s definitely an improvement. Excluding the seats in Wolverhampton and Sutton (which have general support), my proposed seats are:

  1. Aldridge, Brownhills & Bloxwich 76572
    18. Walsall 73255
    14. Sandwell Valley 76523
    4. Erdington 73557*
    6. Hodge Hill 77643* (includes Castle Vale DLC DLG DLH)
    3. Birmingham Central* 77926
    9. Small Heath 77267* (includes Bordesley Green CTH CTI CTJ CTK)
    5. Hall Green 72658*
    7. Kings Norton 71831* (includes Swanshurst Park DEG)
    8. Northfield 75118
    11. Edgbaston & Warley South 76863
    19. Warley North 71590
    20. Wednesbury, Tipton & Darlaston 72803
    10. Dudley 78270*
    16. Stourbridge 72591* (includes Brockmoor J05 J06 J07)
    12. Halesowen & Cradley Heath 78132

The stars indicate seats that include parts of split wards. (I have 4 split wards compared to the Commission’s 3.) Seats in bold include wards from two boroughs. (I have 8 compared with the Commission’s 9. Not a big difference there, but this counter-proposal doesn’t make wholesale changes. In an ideal world we’d be looking at something like my original plan, which only had 3 cross-border seats.)

Map of seats listed above:

bce bbc0

If you prefer all or part of this plan to the Commission’s proposals, email them by 11/12/17 at information@boundarycommissionengland.gov.uk