THE recently published revised proposals for new Parliamentary constituencies “significantly improve” the retention of hinterlands around key rural towns including Ballymena.
According to the report published last week by the Boundary Commission Mid Antrim is a new constituency which was proposed after a review of evidence submitted during the initial and secondary consultations.
Mid Antrim is comprised of wards which were included in the previously proposed Dalriada and West Antrim constituencies.
The report states that following publication of provisional proposals in 2016 for a 12 week consultation many respondents “called for natural hinterlands to be retained around key towns across Northern Ireland”.
It adds: “All of the main political parties made this point as did Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Mid Ulster District Council. 14 people made similar comments at the public hearings. They referred to the need to protect local ties; the identification of rural villages with their associated towns; and the need to avoid locating rural towns on the edges of constituencies.”
The Boundary Commission said it was “impressed” by the arguments put forward in submissions” and that respondents provided strong reasons and a wealth of local detail highlighting in particular Ballymena, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Dungannon.
Those who made representations at the public hearing in Ballymena were Ian Paisley MP (DUP), Jim Allister MLA (TUV), David Ford MLA (Alliance), Cllr Timothy Gaston (TUV), Cllr Colin McCusker (UUP), Dr Alasdair McDonnell MP (SDLP), Cllr Trevor Beatty (DUP) and Jacqueline Douglas.
The Boundary Commission commented: “Given the settlement pattern in Northern Ireland, with many of the electorate concentrated in sizeable towns surrounded by rural hinterlands, it is inevitable that some constituency boundaries will run close to the edges of towns: for example, under the existing pattern Newry sits at the edge of Newry and Armagh constituency. However, the consultation responses showed us that it was possible to produce a more compliant overall solution than our provisional proposals.”
The new Mid Antrim constituency has been established by retaining the wards of Academy, Aghogill, Ardeevin, Ballee and Harryville, Ballykeel, Braidwater, Broughshane, Castle, Cranfield, Demense, Doagh, Fair Green, Galgorm, Glenwhirry, Grange, Kells, Park, Parkgate, Randalstown, Shildovan, Slemish and Toome from the previously proposed West Antrim constituency; transferring out the wards of Ballyclare East, Ballyclare West, Ballyduff, Ballynure, Ballyrobert, Fairview and Mossley from the previously proposed West Antrim constituency; and transferring in the wards of Clogh Mills, Cullybackey, Dunloy, Glenravel, Kirkinriola, Loughguile and Stranocum, Maine, Portglenone and Rasharkin from the previously proposed Dalriada constituency.The main towns would include Ballymena and Randalstown. Mid Antrim would have an electorate of 70,409 which is 5.8% below the UK quota.
The 2018 Review of Parliamentary constituencies started on February 24, 2016.
The number of Parliamentary constituencies across the UK is set to reduce to 600 whilst in Northern Ireland, the decrease will be from 18 seats to 17 at the next Westminster elections, expected in 2020. This will mean redrawing the existing constituency boundaries.
The Boundary Commission published it's provisional proposals on September 6, 2016 for a 12-week consultation period and provided an online consultation tool to facilitate responses. Four public hearings were held during October 2016 in Ballymena, Omagh, Belfast and Portadown.
In light of the evidence collected during the Initial and Secondary Consultations, the Commission has produced revised proposals for the Parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland.
This latest and final consultation seeks views from the public on the revised proposals. The Commission will consider all representations received during an 8 week consultation period. There will be no public hearings during the consultation.
The consultation period for the revised proposals will run from January 30, 2018 to 26 March, 26 2018. There will be no further public hearings.
The revised proposals can be viewed on the website and on the consultation portal www.bcni2018.uk
Anyone wishing to make representations about the revised proposals should do so in writing by March 26, 2018.
You can do this in three ways:
Online - You can submit your representation(s) online at a dedicated consultation portal www.bcni2018.uk.
By email - email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org
By post - write to the Secretary to the Boundary Commission: Eamonn McConville Secretary to the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland The Bungalow Stormont House, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SH.