Thursday, June 29, 2023

Name that constituency!

Here's the good news. The Boundary Commission have announced their final boundaries and names for new Parliamentary constituencies and the new Gateshead Central and Whickham constituency has survived attempts by Gateshead Labour to remove "Whickham" from the name. The new constituency contains 4 strong Lib Dem wards (Whickham North, Whickham South and Sunniside, Dunston Hill and Whickham East and Low Fell). In addition, it contains Saltwell, won by the Lib Dems from Labour in May though the majority is narrow. The inclusion of the name "Whickham" recognises the importance of the biggest town in Gateshead outside the inner core. It also puts into play the notion that the new Gateshead Central and Whickham constituency is one in which Labour are the lead party but the Lib Dems are the challengers. No wonder Labour wanted to expunge "Whickham" from the name! An interesting battle lies ahead.

It wasn't all good news however. Labour won the battle to keep the name of Birtley out of the new constituency covering the town. Instead of Washington and Birtley, which we argued for, Labour won the battle to ban Birtley from the name. Instead, it will be called Washington and Gateshead South. It was a similar story with Jarrow and Gateshead East. We argued that the Gateshead East area was effectively Felling town and this should be recognised in the name of the new constituency. Labour's anti-Felling campaign worked, and the initial name of Jarrow and Gateshead East remains in place.

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