Council battles to stop Littleport being hived off to new Norfolk constituency with Thetford and Downham Market
PUBLISHED: 16:49 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:56 14 November 2017
East Cambridgeshire Council is to fight to retain Littleport in the NE Cambs constituency and to stop it being hived off to Norfolk to be part of a new Downham Market and Thetford seat.
Sally Bonnett, infrastructure and strategy manager, summed up the ruling Tory-controlled authority’s view in a report to a special council meeting on November 23.
It will be the final push by the council to retain Littleport where it is following public consultation on the Boundary Commission of England (BCE) proposals put forward last year.
Initially East Cambridgeshire would have been split across three constituencies: South East Cambridgeshire, North East Cambridgeshire and South West Norfolk.
The majority of the district was in the new SE Cambs constituency but Downham villages and Sutton formed part of the new NE Cambs constituency with Fenland whilst Littleport was recommended for inclusion in the new SW Norfolk constituency.
The BCE has recently refreshed their proposals, says Ms Bonnett, and “although minor amendments have been made to the southern part of the new SE Cambs constituency, the boundaries affecting East Cambridgeshire are unchanged from the initial proposals”.
She says: “This is the last opportunity for people to comment on the new Parliamentary constituencies.”
Unless the commission can be persuaded to amend their proposals, Littleport could find its way out of NE Cambs within a year and ready for a General Election in 2022.
“The council strongly objects to the revised proposals,” says Ms Bonnett.
“The council is proposing an alternative constituency arrangement which would enable Littleport to remain part of the NE Cambridgeshire constituency.”
She says it not only makes sense but it “respects local government boundaries and the local ties that would be broken by the changes proposed by the BCE.”
“The feedback from councillors has shaped the final proposals.”
Last September the BCE published its initial proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries. The majority of East Cambs would be in the new SE Cambs constituency along with Earith (Huntingdonshire), Balsham, Histon & Impington, Teversham, The Wilbrahams, Waterbeach and Willingham & Over from South Cambridgeshire.
A later change moved Milton to SE Cambs and Teversham moved in the opposite direction to S Cambs.
Littleport would move to SW Norfolk and be part of a renamed Thetford and Downham Market constituency.
East Cambs believes Littleport is best served by retaining it geographic connections with not only the district but also the county. “Littleport has been part of the North East Cambridgeshire constituency since its creation in 1983 and as part Cambridgeshire County Council its community interests, identity and all local ties are with Cambridgeshire not Norfolk, “says Ms Bonnett.
All the public services are Cambs based including schools, police and waste collection.
“This provides for effective and convenient government as it allows for the constituencies to be represented more effectively and there are also better links, in terms of public transport, within county boundaries than there are across them,” she added.
East Cambs Council has suggested moving Roman Bank from NE Cambs to NW Norfolk as part of a range of options to equalise numbers within each constituency.