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Constituencies shake up comes under fire from Newham’s MPs

PUBLISHED: 10:24 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:20 13 September 2018

West Ham MP Lyn Brown and East Ham MP Stephen Timms. Pic: Lyn Brown/Martyn Milner

West Ham MP Lyn Brown and East Ham MP Stephen Timms. Pic: Lyn Brown/Martyn Milner

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The borough’s MPs have slammed a proposed shake up of the borough’s constituencies.

How the East Ham constituency would look. Pic: ONSHow the East Ham constituency would look. Pic: ONS

The Boundary Commission – which groups voters into areas for national elections – revealed plans to redraw voter areas on Monday.

They would see the borough divided among four constituencies: East Ham, Leyton and Stratford, Barking and Beckton, and Poplar and Canning Town.

How the Poplar and Canning Town constituency would look. Pic: ONSHow the Poplar and Canning Town constituency would look. Pic: ONS

The first combining Boleyn, East Ham, Green Street, Little Ilford, Wall End and Manor Park would create a constituency of 78,146 voters.

Leyton and Stratford would see Forest Gate, West Ham and Stratford join five areas in Waltham Forest with 74,379 voters. 
Poplar and Canning Town would be 78,073 voters strong and combine Plaistow, Canning Town and Custom House with six wards in Tower Hamlets.

How the Leyton and Stratford constituency would look. Pic: ONSHow the Leyton and Stratford constituency would look. Pic: ONS

The fourth constituency would see Beckton and Royal Docks wards coupled with wards in Barking and Dagenham and total 73,046 voters.

Under current arrangements Labour MPs Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown represent the existing East Ham and West Ham constituencies respectively.

Critics allege that had the changes been in place at the last general election the Conservatives would have won a majority of seats in Parliament prompting Labour to describe the proposals as a Tory power grab.

Lyn Brown told the Recorder: “I don’t see this going through. I don’t believe the prime minister is going to last till Christmas.

“This is a distraction from [Theresa May’s] current woes.”

Ms Brown added it was unlikely Mrs May’s own MPs would vote for it.

How the Barking and Beckton constituency would look. Pic: ONSHow the Barking and Beckton constituency would look. Pic: ONS

“This country needs a new government delivering for the many and not the few. It doesn’t need fewer MPs,” she said.

Stephen Timms said the Commission’s review was intended to increase representation for the Conservatives.

He said that voter numbers were based on out of date figures which didn’t account for the large number of people who registered to vote after the EU referendum.

And a limit that constituencies had to be five percent above or below an average number of voters per seat failed to account for communities.

“If you live in Britannia Village you don’t feel an affinity with Barking and Dagenham because you’re part of Newham,” he said.

It was clear that MPs wouldn’t be asked to vote on the changes until after the UK leaves the EU in March next year, he suggested.

“There could well be a general election before then given the difficulties [the Conservatives] are running into,” he added.

Commission secretary Sam Hartley said: “The recommendations we’ve published mark the end of a thorough process.”

The government now decides when or if the plans will go to the Houses of Parliament for politicians to decide if the new groupings will be used at the next general election.

The former Conservative prime minister David Cameron ordered the review in 2011 to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and create roughly equal constituencies.

The Conservative Party was approached for comment.

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