New plans to carve up Montgomeryshire branded 'crackers' by MP

Reporter:

Keri Trigg

Llanidloes stays but Machynlleth is out.

That was the decision of the Boundary Commission as it published revised plans this week of how best to break up the historic county of Montgomeryshire forever.

The new outlines see Llanidloes and Blaen Hafren brought back into the proposed Brecon, Radnor and Montgomery constituency, after plans published in 2016 looked to latch it onto Ceredigion.

The new super-constituency would include the whole of the current Brecon and Radnorshire, plus south Montgomeryshire communities like Newtown and Montgomery.

Staunch objections from the Llanidloes community may have been listened to, but to balance out the numbers of the new Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire constituency, it will now include Machynlleth.

Meanwhile the northern part of the county, including Welshpool, Llanfair Caereinion and Llanfyllin, will become part of the new constituency of Clwyd South and North Montgomeryshire. This is where Machynlleth would have fallen under last year's initial plans.

Llanidloes Town Councillor Graham McArthur, who heads the Llanidloes-based ‘Campaign for Democracy’ said the new plans showed the Boundary Commission was prepared to listen to the people.

During the consultation period, he produced nine maps and charts along with a number of letters to the Boundary Commission, emphasising the strong cultural, social and economic links between Llanidloes and the Severn Valley communities to its East.

“The plan to put us with Ceredigion didn’t make a lot of sense to people,” said Cllr McArthur.

“The Boundary Commission liked the maps and were more than happy to listen to what we were saying.

“It’s a shame that Montgomeryshire is being split up as it is a natural area. But if we need to split, the split is better now.”

The Boundary Commission’s plans, if they go ahead, will see the number of MPs in Wales cut by more than a quarter, going down from 40 to 29, and even out the number of constituents in each to around the 75,000 mark.

Following the publication of the new outlines this week, Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies said plans to carve up the old county were “crackers”.

He argued that any potential boundary reform should be done without cutting seats, but shared hope that the proposals would be rejected.

“I think the whole proposal is completely unacceptable,” said Mr Davies, who has vowed he will not stand in any constituency other than Montgomeryshire.

“I just don’t think it will go through, it will not be able to get the votes.

“There has got to be an equalisation of constituencies, but it should be done on the basis of 650 seats. There is a case for equalising the constituencies as they are.

“If these plans go ahead democracy will be seriously damaged. The voters of Montgomeryshire will be very disconnected from their MP.

“I don’t criticise the Boundary Commission, they have not had a choice, they are told what to do by the legislation.

“I am supposed to advocate government policy but with this I can’t.”

Ian Harrison, who spearheaded a campaign against the carve-up of Montgomeryshire following last year’s initial plans, said the revised outlines still presented problems for constituents whose new MPs may not know the area at all.

He said: “Myfanwy Alexander, Robert Harvey, Jonathan Wilkinson and I presented the only logical alternative to the Commission’s proposal.

“Our case met their objectives and improved upon them in every sense whilst saving our historic constituency.

“The people of Forden are now faced with the possibly of being represented by an MP living in Ystradgynlais, the people of Welshpool by someone in Delyn.

“How this helps improve democratic representation and accountability in Mid Wales is beyond me. Utter madness. We have eight weeks to have another go.”

The consultation on the revised proposals ends on December 11.

Email:

keri.trigg@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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