VOTING boundaries in Solihull are set to be drastically re-drawn in the run up to the upcoming general election in 2020.
Under the Government’s draft proposals to reduce the number of Members of Parliament, the Meriden parliamentary constituency will be abolished, with Knowle and Meriden wards absorbed into a new Coventry West and Meriden constituency, while all other wards in the borough will be split between new constituencies Shirley and Solihull South in the heart of the borough, and Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North.
The plans, announced by the independent Boundary Commissions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, aim to not only reduce the number of constituencies from 650 to 600, but also require them to have an electorate between 71,000 and 78,500 voters.
As well as the creation of the new Coventry West and Meriden constituency, the current Solihull constituency would be split in two.
The new Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North constituency will be made up of five wards from the north of the borough – Bickenhill, Castle Bromwich, Chelmsley Wood, Kingshurt and Fordbridge, and Smith’s Wood – as well as Elmdon and Lyndon wards from the existing Solihull constituency and the Birmingham city ward of Sheldon.
The remaining nine wards in the south of the borough – Blythe, Dorridge and Hockley Heath, Olton, St Aphege, Shirley East, Shirley South, Shirley West and Silhill – will join with the Stratford on Avon district ward of Tanworth-in-Arden to form the new Shirley and Solihull South constituency.
Caroline Spelman, whose Meriden constituency could be abolished in the changes, described the proposals as ‘problematic’.
She said: “This is the second consultation on boundary changes.
“These proposals are problematic because they split the Meriden constituency across four local government boundaries.
“This is not consistent with the Commission’s principle of respecting those boundaries and gives no consideration to the strong local ties that remain across communities.
“I shall be lobbying hard to keep the borough together.”
But Julian Knight, whose position as MP for Solihull is not under threat from boundary changes, welcomed the news.
He said: “It’s great to see the new boundaries recognising Shirley as such an important part of my constituency, and it would be wonderful hearing it recognised in the House of Commons.
“I’m also glad to see that the seat would keep the overwhelming majority of my current constituents, whom I am getting to know so well since I was elected last year.
“It’s a huge privilege to be MP for Solihull, so it’s also good to see our town’s name being retained – indeed, two MPs will now share the honour.”
The changes are part of a periodical review into parliamentary boundaries by the Boundary Commissions to ensure they keep up to date with changes in the number of eligible voters in each area.
And while Knowle and Meriden ward residents will now vote alongside Coventry voters to elect their MP, they will still be governed by Solihull council.