- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
The Boundary Commission for England is responsible for reviewing Parliamentary constituency boundaries in England. The Commission is due to make recommendations for new constituency boundaries by 1 July 2023. On Monday 7 March 2022, the Commission held a Public Hearing for the West Midlands at the Guildhall, Worcester, and I spoke at the hearing.
The Commission’s proposals would remove the wards of Bentley and Darlaston North and Darlaston South from the Walsall South constituency, and add the wards of Streetly and Aldridge Central and South. The constituency would then be renamed ‘Walsall’.
The great swath of Green Belt land and Barr Beacon Ridge which separates Walsall’s urban core from Streetly and Aldridge Central and South is a significant barrier physically and to community ties. Local ties and community cohesion enable proper political representation and therefore political engagement.
At the Hearing, I suggested that an alternative proposal is taken forward which would combine the Walsall wards of Paddock, Palfrey, Pleck and St Matthew’s with four Sandwell wards: Wendesbury North, Wednesbury South, Friar Park and Great Barr and Yew Tree.
These areas are very well-connected with the urban core of Walsall, through the motorway, West Bromwich Road or Birmingham Road. Many residents already travel between them for school, to work and to shop. Stuart Bathurst Catholic School and Woodgreen Academy lie just 200m into Wednesbury and are attended by many children from Pleck. The electorates from the two local authority areas are represented in sufficient numbers to make the arrangement a stable one. The constituency could be called ‘Walsall and Wednesbury’. Shared issues between this set of wards often require joint solutions. I worked extensively with Friar Park to counter damaging industrial planning proposals at the Bescot railway marshalling site, which affected Friar Park and Pleck. There has been little cause historically for joint working with representatives from Aldridge.
I hope that the Commission will take account of the important issues of local ties and community cohesion and accept this revised proposal. Submissions to the Commission’s consultation can be made at BCE Consultation Portal (bcereviews.org.uk) up to 4 April 2022.