Plan to redraw map is thrown out thanks to 'people power'
By Sutton Coldfield Observer | Friday, October 19, 2012, 09:20
PEOPLE power prevailed in Sutton after the Boundary Commission for England reversed its proposals to transform the town's political map.
Revised proposals were released by BCE this week which will see Sutton New Hall remain in the Sutton Coldfield constituency and Kingstanding remain in Erdington, when the commission's plans are submitted to Parliament in 12 months' time.
The Government asked the Commission to come up with revised constituencies in an effort to trim the number of MPs from 650 to 600 across the UK and also to make the sizes of electorates within constituencies more uniform – to within five per cent of the 76,641 quota.
Initial plans included swapping the New Hall and Erdington wards, a proposal met with strong opposition among residents across Walmley, Wylde Green and Minworth and their counterparts in Kingstanding.
Erdington constituency would be renamed Erdington and Castle Bromwich, the BCE said, retaining its existing four wards with the addition of Castle Bromwich.
Streetly ward will also move from the Aldridge and Brownhills constituency into Walsall South under the plans.
New Hall resident Chris Hillcox, who led the Keep New Hall in Sutton Coldfield campaign, said the decision would be met with "delight" in the ward.
"This is great news and another step to victory for the people of New Hall and Sutton who opposed this," Mr Hillcox said.
"The reversal of the 'Sutton swap' will be greeted with delight by the 2,500-plus people that signed a petition and wrote letters to the boundary commission objecting to this."
Fellow campaigner Ken Rushton, chair of Vesey North Neighbourhood Forum whose views were highlighted by the Commission, said the turnaround showed what "resident power" can do.
"This is absolutely wonderful news and a residents' victory," he said.
The town's MP, Andrew Mitchell, said "community spirit" had succeeded with the proposals for Sutton receiving more complaints than any other constituency in the country.
"The voice of Sutton – as I urged in my own evidence to the Boundary Commission – has been heard and it has amended its proposals accordingly. There were many throughout our local community who gave their support to this change by writing and protesting to the Boundary Commission and their voice has been heard," he said.
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Erdington MP Jack Dromey also welcomed the Commission's revised proposals. He said: "The Boundary Commission has listened to reason, finding in favour of what local people want.
"The people of Kingstanding are proud citizens of Erdington and the people of Sutton New Hall are proud of their historic identity in Sutton Coldfield. The Sutton Swap made no sense and has been rightly rejected.
"I would like to pay tribute to the people of both Kingstanding and Sutton New Hall for the way that they came together to lodge more objections than on any other proposal from the Boundary Commission anywhere in England."
Cross-party support for the revised plans and championing "people power" was in evidence with Sutton New Hall's Conservative councillors David Barrie and James Bird praising the efforts of those who objected.
Cllr Barrie said: "I'm absolutely delighted. The thing is it's a victory for ordinary people who have written in to the Boundary Commission and made representation. "There was a stream of protests. People felt that they were part of Sutton Coldfield and not part of Erdington – that's their history.
"That's where they felt they belonged. It's a sense of identity and it's people's genuine views.
"The original proposals seemed to be a bit of a numbers exercise. It didn't really take into account what people wanted."
Cllr Bird added: "The people's views have been listened to and common sense prevailed."
Sutton Vesey councillor Rob Pocock said: "This shows the real power of people standing up, putting their party politics aside and fighting to retain their local community identity.
"There is only one group that can take the credit for this stunning U-turn and that's the united communities of Sutton and Erdington.
"The message is clear to anyone who might try this in future – don't mess with our community, you will get your hands burnt!"