Would new boundary have seen Ben Gummer hold Ipswich at June election?
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
New parliamentary constituency proposals have been published – which show that in Suffolk the Tories may well have held Ipswich if the new boundaries had been in place at the general election.
Compared with other parts of the country there are few changes in Suffolk as the number of seats across the country is cut from 650 to 600.
Suffolk would retain seven seats under the proposal and the West Suffolk, South Suffolk and Waveney seats would be unchanged.
The Ipswich constituency would gain the Castle Hill ward from Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. This is one of the most solid Conservative wards in the town – and may well have brought enough Tory voters across to overturn Sandy Martin’s 831 Labour majority allowing Ben Gummer to hold on to the seat.
All the county’s other seats are held by the Conservatives, and none of those which are facing changes which would be likely to see the focus of power shifted.
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One of the other significant changes would come along the route of the A12 in East Suffolk where all the communities that would be affected by the Four Villages by-pass would end up in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich – at present they are split between that constituency and Suffolk Coastal.
The proposals are now open to public consultation until December and will then be reviewed again before they are sent to parliament for a vote in September next year.
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However most political observers believe the House of Commons will reject the proposal. Labour is opposed to the changes because it reduces the number of seats in their heartlands – experts have estimated that had June’s election been fought on these boundaries the Conservatives would have had a majority of 16 in a 600-seat House of Commons.
Many Conservative MPs are uneasy about the proposals because they could see their seats disappear, and the Democratic Unionists from Ulster – who prop up the current government – fear the changes could boost their arch-rivals Sinn Fein.
What could move if the changes are approved?
Central Suffolk to Ipswich: Castle Hill Ward.
Bury St Edmunds to Central Suffolk: Needham Market, Ringshall, Battisford, Combs (not Combs Ford), Wattisham Airfield (not Wattisham village which is, and stays, in South Suffolk), Little Finborough (not Great Finborough).
Suffolk Coastal to Central Suffolk: Farnham, Stratford St Andrew, Pettistree.
Central Suffolk to Suffolk Coastal: Hasketon, Great Bealings, Little Bealings.