An MP says renaming his Parliamentary constituency to include Burntwood alongside Lichfield in the title would be “misleading”.
A consultation is currently taking place on new proposals to reshape the voting boundaries across the country.
As part of this, the Boundary Commission for England has suggested moving parts of Whittington and Streethay into Tamworth – a move which has previously been criticised by Michael Fabricant MP.
The Conservative MP has also said he felt renaming the constituency to include Burntwood in the title would risk alienating other residents.
“I submitted my views on the commission’s proposals a few weeks’ back.
“I did give consideration as to whether the constituency should be renamed ‘Lichfield and Burntwood’, but decided that would be misleading as the constituency runs to north of Abbots Bromley and east out to Barton-under-Needwood.
“I thought residents there might feel alienated, so I decided to stick with the historic name of ‘Lichfield’ for the constituency as it goes back to the Parliaments held in the 13th Century.
“The historic Lichfield constituency is one of the very oldest in the country.”
The proposed changes are designed to ensure all Parliamentary voting areas in the UK are roughly the same size in terms of people being represented.
Mr Fabricant added:
“As far as the boundary is concerned, I would like to see no changes, but the Lichfield constituency is growing too large so change is inevitable.
“But I strongly reject Streethay being torn away from Lichfield and moved into Tamworth and have made that clear to the commissioners – I would regret losing Whittington too.”Michael Fabricant MP
The full text of Mr Fabricant’s reply to the commission:
While I deeply regret any change to the Lichfield constituency, I recognise that the constituency electorate is becoming too large and in danger of breaching the permitted upper limit. I ask for one change to the BCE’s Initial Proposal: that the Polling District of Streethay (AD) be split from the Whittington & Streethay Ward to remain in Lichfield.
I note that the BCE state “In order to avoid dividing Burntwood between constituencies, we propose including the Whittington & Streethay ward in the Tamworth constituency” and I understand the logic of the argument. However, although Streethay is not in the parish of Lichfield City, both geographically and emotionally, residents perceive themselves as an integral part of Lichfield. There is no natural boundary between Lichfield and Streethay as the two are linked by the Burton Road (A5127), Burton Old Road and foot bridges. These roads cross the West Coast Rail Line which does not form a barrier.
There is, however, a major physical barrier in the A38 Trunk Road which is a 4 lane dual carriageway with crash barriers down its centre. This effectively cuts off the Streethay polling district AD from the rest of the ward. I would urge commissioners to see this for themselves. The A38 provides an understandable boundary between the Lichfield and Tamworth constituencies at that point.
Streethay residents use ‘Lichfield’ as their address. Recent developments in Streethay, which has no separate village centre or shops, all promote themselves as being in Lichfield. Streethay children all go to Lichfield schools and residents shop and go to pubs in Lichfield. In future, Streethay may well be moved into Lichfield City as part of local government boundary changes. But, whatever the actual ward boundaries, Streethay residents would see their being moved into Tamworth constituency as ‘dividing Lichfield between constituencies’ – the very reason why the BCE do not propose moving Hammerwich with Wall into Tamworth.
According to the latest data I have for the electorate of Streethay (AD), retaining the Polling District in Lichfield would result in Lichfield having an electorate of 75,335 and Tamworth 73,251 – both within the permitted parameters.
Because of these local ties and geographic factors, I ask that the Polling District of Streethay (AD) be split from the Whittington & Streethay Ward to remain in the Lichfield Parliamentary constituency. It would be seen as a logical and popular change to the initial proposal.