I write this comment on behalf of the It’s Our County political Party in Herefordshire – the main opposition councillor group on the unitary authority. I am the deputy leader of the party.
The proposals for the three constituencies including Herefordshire wards (Ludlow & Leominster, Malvern & Ledbury, Hereford& South Herefordshire) are unsatisfactory and are not robust.
Each constituency as proposed is close to the upper limit of electors to which the Commission has been working in this review. Planning permissions already granted and coming forward in the urban centres of each of the three constituencies (in Leominster, Hereford and Ledbury) take all three constituencies over the elector limit.
The total number of electors in Herefordshire wards is presently 133,036. By retaining two constituencies with boundaries remaining contiguous with the boundary of the county constituencies electoral numbers today would be ~66,520 which is 94.98% of the lower limit to which the Commission is working. By the time of the next planned general election in 2020 the elector numbers in these two constituencies will be comfortably within the Commission’s acceptable target range.
Geographically, Herefordshire is bordered to the south by the M50, to the west by Wales and to the east by the substantial physical feature of the Malvern Hills. The county has a strong local identity and this very much includes the coincident parliamentary constituencies.
The constituencies proposed in this review make no sense to our community culturally or historically. The county’s location on the border of Wales makes adjustments to the west problematic. Residents do not identify with the cross border areas proposed for Leominster & Ludlow and Ledbury & Malvern. The Leominster area is unfeasibly large – ranging from the outskirts of Hereford in the south to beyond the Long Mynd in the north. The Ledbury constituency is similarly etiolated running from Ross-on-Wye in the south to Stourport-on-Severn in the north, bifurcated for much of its length by the ridge of the Malvern Hills physically and psychologically separating the two county halves of the constituency and providing exactly the clear boundary delineation to which the Commission should be adhering.
The boundary Commission should think again about this constituency grouping and make what adjustments seem appropriate between the two existing constituencies in order to recognise the growth in residents which is already in train through the planning and development process. This will ensure that the constituencies have the ability to grow in elector numbers for some years to come while remaining within the target range set for this review.
Liz Harvey, Deputy IOC Leader. March 2017