Hundreds surprised by constituency change

HUNDREDS of Suffolk voters have found themselves in a different constituency – in a move which has even surprised some candidates.

Homes in part of Deben Avenue, Dobbs Lane, Gayfer Avenue and Main Road in Martlesham Heath have been moved out of Suffolk Coastal into the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency.

However most residents had no idea the move was coming – even though it was decided after a public inquiry more than seven years ago.

And Suffolk Coastal District Council, which has to administer the elections, was only reminded about the change after being nudged by the Office of National Statistics at the end of last year.

Deben Avenue resident Geoff Steinberg was furious to find out his home had been “moved” without any consultation.

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He said: “I got polling cards saying Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. We’ve always been in Suffolk Coastal.

“I contacted Suffolk Coastal Council and they said we had been moved by the Office of National Statistics and there was no consultation! It’s also caused confusion for the candidates – we’ve received leaflets from Adam Leeder and Daisy Cooper from Suffolk Coastal and from Bhavna Joshi, Andrew Stringer, Richard Vass and Daniel Poulter in Central Suffolk. It’s a complete mess.”

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A spokesman for the Boundary Commission, which instituted the changes, said constituency boundaries had been altered following a review of local authority wards in 2001.

At that time it was decided that all the homes in the Kesgrave East ward would be in the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency. However while the local authority boundary changes were introduced in 2002 (in Ipswich) and 2003 (in Suffolk Coastal), the constituency boundaries could not be changed until all councils across England had been reviewed. That review did not finish until the end of 2006 – so this is the first general election on the new boundaries.

He said: “There was a public inquiry when people could have their say before the changes in 2003, but once that was complete it could not be revisited.

“That was several years ago but the changes are now being implemented and we asked the Office of National Statistics to remind the councils involved about the changes.”

Suffolk Coastal Labour candidate Adam Leeder said he would remind his volunteers not to waste leaflets on homes outside the constituency.

He said: “I’m sorry if there has been any confusion here. I have a very enthusiastic team and it seems on this time they may have been over-enthusiastic in getting the message out.”

And Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper accepted there was confusion about the constituency boundaries.

She said: “I don’t know whether my leaflets were hand-delivered or sent by the Royal Mail, but the fact is there is serious confusion about boundaries – it would be much better if they coincided with local council boundaries.”

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