I am writing to express my opinion on the Boundary Commission's proposals for the redrawing of Welsh Parliamentary constituency boundaries as they impact on Montgomeryshire. In January, the Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire, Mr Glyn Davies, arranged a meeting of interested community and county councillors, as well as other individuals who expressed a wish to attend. I attended that meeting and although it was called at relatively short notice, it was a well-attended meeting.
Mr Davies opened the meeting by explaining the context as to why these proposals have been made and that The Boundary Commission – and its respective national arms – which are independent of Government, were given the responsibility to draw up the new constituency map.
Those who attended the meeting were outraged by the proposals, which they see, if they were to be implemented, as effectively the end of Parliamentary democracy in Mid Wales. These are not the only people I have discussed this issue with in my capacity as Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire. Of those that I have spoken to thus far, no one is in agreement with these proposals. I believe the overwhelming majority of my constituents will see this as a disaster for Mid Wales and I expect many local Councils, Councillors and individuals will be making similar submissions to express their opinions.
It is clear to us that the Commission has drawn up new constituencies for North Wales and South Wales and has effectively 'carved up' Montgomeryshire simply to make the numbers 'stack up' in North and South Wales. Not for the first time since devolution, Montgomeryshire is being sacrificed for the convenience of others.
My constituents, who attended Mr Davies’ meeting, by unanimous vote, demanded that I ask you to support their opinion (and mine) and fundamentally reconsider the proposals that you have put forward, ensuring that a new constituency is created, centred on Montgomeryshire, as a Mid Wales constituency. There is little doubt that if this is not done, the notion of 'Wales the Nation' will suffer a major setback. I would not be properly representing my constituents if I did not let you know what our opinion is on what many perceive as disastrous proposals.
Notwithstanding the above, I may have to face the prospect that my appeal to you will not be accepted and that the initial proposals that you have put forward will be substantially agreed. However, if that were to be the case, I would at least expect that the name ‘Montgomeryshire’ is kept within both boundary names.
This final point regarding name, is something I feel very strongly about, as do my constituents. Montgomeryshire is a name with a great history, which will inevitably continue even if these proposals are translated into reality. In relation to the ‘Southern’ constituency name, I do not believe that the name South Powys properly reflects people living in Newtown and Llanidloes, who would naturally perceive themselves as residents of north Powys. Therefore, I strongly recommend that the name should be Brecon, Radnor and South Montgomeryshire. In relation to the ‘Northern’ constituency, I strongly believe that the name should be Glyndwr and North Montgomeryshire.
Russell George AM