Harrogate MP Andrew Jones 'very sad' to lose villages in boundary shake-up proposals

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones says he will be "very sad" to lose just under 1,500 constituents under proposals for a major shake-up of parliamentary boundaries.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 11:21 am
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 11:24 am
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.

The Boundary Commission this week announced proposed changes to constituencies across the country as part of a review which aims to make Parliament fairer by giving each MP a roughly similar number of voters.

If approved, the changes could mean Harrogate and Knaresborough, which has been held by Conservative MP Andrew Jones since 2010, would lose 1,469 constituents with several villages north east of the towns falling under a new Wetherby and Easingwold parliamentary area.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Jones said: "The proposed boundaries are the subject of consultation now. Many MPs will see changes to the makeup of the constituencies they represent – some will see those constituencies abolished altogether.

"Whatever the outcome I will be very sad to no longer represent some parts of the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency should they be moved into another constituency.

"By the time these changes come into force MPs will have represented constituencies on the current boundaries for 15 years. That’s a long time and many great partnerships between individuals and community groups have been formed."

The Boundary Commission carries out a review every five years and has put its proposals out for public consultation with a formal report to government expected by June 2023.

If the proposed changes go through, they will only come into effect in late 2023, which could be too late for the next election if Prime Minister Boris Johnson decides to call it early.

Some MPs could find themselves with safer seats, while others will be more closely contested and some will disappear altogether.

To put the potential loss of 1,469 constituents in Harrogate and Knaresborough into some context, Mr Jones won the 2019 general election by a margin of 9,675 votes, beating his closest rival Liberal Democrat Judith Rogerson.

Mr Jones added: “The boundary commission always has a difficult job too but they do it independently of the politicians and that is entirely appropriate.

“The most important thing, whatever the new boundaries, is that those close ties between the community and their MP endure. I will do all I can to facilitate that strong working relationship between any part of the current Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency and their new MP should the final boundary changes bring about such a change.”

Elsewhere, Conservative MP Julian Smith’s Skipton and Ripon constituency would engulf Ripley but lose other villages including Bishop Monkton and Burton Leonard under the initial proposals.

Selby and Ainsty, which is held by Conservative MP Nigel Adams and includes areas south of Harrogate, would also be reduced in size to only include Selby and its surrounding villages.

The initial proposals will now be subject to revisions and consultations, with the first set to run for eight weeks before closing on 2 August.

A second consultation with public hearings will then get under way in spring 2022, followed by a final four-week consultation on revised plans in autumn 2022.

Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency (proposed new electorate 72,850)

Council wards to be included:

Harrogate Bilton Grange

Harrogate Bilton Woodfield

Harrogate Central

Harrogate Coppice Valley

Harrogate Duchy

Harrogate Fairfax

Harrogate Harlow

High Harrogate

Harrogate Hookstone

Harrogate Kingsley

Harrogate New Park

Harrogate Oatlands

Harrogate Old Bilton

Harrogate Pannal

Harrogate Saltergate

Harrogate St Georges

Starbeck

Harrogate Stray

Valley Gardens

Killinghall and Hampsthwaite

Knaresborough Aspin and Calcutt

Knaresborough Castle

Knaresborough Eastfield

Knaresborough Scriven Park

Skipton and Ripon constituency (proposed new electorate 74,270)

Council wards to be included:

Fountains and Ripley

Masham and Kirkby Malzeard

Nidd Valley

Pateley Bridge and Nidderdale Moors

Ripon Minster

Ripon Moorside

Ripon Spa

Ripon Ure Bank

Washburn

Wathvale

Wetherby and Easingwold constituency (proposed new electorate 74,405)

Council wards to be included:

Bishop Monkton and Newby

Boroughbridge

Claro

Marston Moor Ward

Ouseburn Ward

Spofforth with Lower Wharfedale

To view the current and proposed constituency boundaries in full go to www.bcereviews.org.uk

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter