Jesse’s Hereford Times column: The Boundary Review

As I put finger to keyboard for this column the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham is in full swing.

For the first time I have found myself having to explain government policy as a Minister.  It really puts you on your mettle!  But—as in Parliament—one ends up really appreciating the public accountability that is built into our political system.

In that spirit, you may have heard that there is currently a review of the constituency boundaries for MPs across the country.

The Boundary Review feels fiddly and technical, and in part it is.

But it is also a crucial part of our democracy.  People move around during the course of their lives, and the effect of this over time is that some constituencies have thousands more voters than others.

This means that individual votes count for less in some places than in others. While we will never have an absolutely perfect system, that imbalance cannot be right.  If it is not addressed, it amounts to gerrymandering by stealth.

The Boundary Commission is an independent body, and it should be applauded for its professional and non-partisan work.   That work is an important step towards restoring fairness to our voting system.

In relation to my own constituency of Hereford and South Herefordshire, I have reviewed the plans in detail, and they seem thoroughly sensible.

The Commission did not have much scope for change, because the constituency is bounded to the West by Wales and to the South by Gloucestershire, and these are treated as separate areas under the legislation.

The proposal rightly keeps the Golden Valley as a whole within the constituency, and it preserves the important link between Ross-on-Wye and the city of Hereford.

However, what really matter are not my views, but yours:  the views of the public.

A twelve-week consultation period is now under way, and runs until the week commencing 5th December.

Four public meetings will be held across the West Midlands next month.

If you can, please take a moment to make your views known by attending one of the meetings or by making a submission in writing.

All the dates and information can be found online at www.bce2018.org.uk or by calling the Commission on 0207 276 1102.

Finally, please do spread the word amongst friends and family so that as many local people as possible, whatever their views, have a chance to take part.