Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Time Noted 10




at a


held at

Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Glebe St, Stoke-on-Trent.


Tuesday 25 June 2002


Mr Alaric Dalziel


(From the Shorthand Notes of: B Gurney & Sons LLP Westminster House 7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA)


Time Noted: 10.00 am THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is ten o'clock by the red electronic clocks which we will use, the clock at the back is a little fast. I will formally open this local inquiry now. My name is Alaric Dalziel and I have been appointed as the Assistant Commissioner to conduct this local inquiry by the Boundary Commission for England. The inquiry will consider the Commission's provisional recommendations for the counties of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and the representations which include a number of counterproposals made in respect of those recommendations. I will consider, also, the written representations which have been made to the Commission. I will be assisted in the running of the inquiry by three members of the Boundary Commission Secretariat. They are Mr Alan Bannister, who sits beside me, Mr Martin Rudall and Mr Howard Service who are the back of the chamber. Please approach them at any time with any queries you may have about this inquiry. I will be assisted also by the two shorthand writers who are in front of me. It is absolutely vital that they are able to hear and record everything that is said because I am going to go round the county after this inquiry and look at all the disputed areas. I am going to be provided with a full transcript of everything that is said and it is vital, therefore, if there is any difficulty they have, we are going to have to stop and start again to make sure they get it down. I want every word, pro and con and objection recorded so that I can have a full record when I go round the county. It will assist me in making my report. There are two members of the Boundary Commission for Wales and two members of the Boundary Commission for Scotland who are attending this morning as observers and we are delighted to welcome them here. Shortly I will adjourn the inquiry for about ten minutes so that I can meet those who wish to make oral representations and informally arrange an order for them to address me. I would be grateful, therefore, if those people would come forward to this table and introduce themselves to me, and indeed to Mr Bannister who is going to be helping me. Before I do that I have been asked by the Boundary Commission to introduce their statement which explains the provisional recommendations for the counties of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. I understand that copies of the statement were sent to all those who made formal representations to the Commission. Extra copies are available inside this hall for those who have not read it along with other documents, such as the Commission's information booklet. May I ask that anyone who has not read the statement obtains a copy during the adjournment. It would only be a waste of time if I read the statement out aloud but it is worthwhile, I think, if I read out two paragraphs and part of a third from the statement because it does emphasise them and it seems to me they are important. Paragraph five reads: "The Commission wish to stress that these provisional recommendations relate solely to parliamentary constituencies and do not affect the structure or arrangements of local government (county, district, town or parish councils) or the services they provide."


Paragraph six says: "The Commission are an independent and totally impartial body. They wish to emphasise very strongly that the results of previous elections do not, and should not, enter their considerations when they are deciding their proposals. Nor do they consider the effects of their recommendations on future voting patterns. It follows that such considerations must not be argued at this inquiry". I read that because that may help to limit some of the arguments that people are thinking of bringing forward. Thirdly, the second sentence of paragraph ten: "Any interested person may attend the inquiry and, if they wish, take part by making an oral submission, whether or not they have previously submitted a written representation to the Commission." The whole purpose of this inquiry is to obtain local views and it is vital if you have them and want them to be heard that they should be expressed at some stage to me. You are not precluded from saying something if you have not written a letter to the Commission. Even if you do not approach me during the short adjournment to register your intention to speak you may find later in the inquiry there is something you wish to say that is relevant to the issue. If so, please let me know then and certainly I will give you the opportunity to say it. What you cannot do is effectively to reserve your position and simply await my report. If you want your view to have an effect on the Boundary Commissioners you should let me know what it is as it is very unlikely indeed that a further inquiry will be held. It may be that some of you wish to get away early and cannot stay for long and if you approach me during the adjournment I will try to fit you in and respect your wishes. Some people may not be able to get here until later and if they have a representative or somebody here if they let me know I will try and accommodate them. If people cannot be here at all others will let me know that are here now because it is important that they let me know what their views are. Should the need arise this hall is available for evening sittings on all three days it is booked for: today, tomorrow and Thursday. The Commission published its proposals for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent on 14 February 2002. Subject to the convenience of everybody who wishes to speak I hope to start off with the counter-proposals and we will move on from there. After this inquiry is over I will go to view various parts of the county. If there is a particular boundary or issue any of you want me to look at then please mention it during the course of your evidence and I will note that and I will fit in a viewing of it. As to the questioning of those who make representations, formal cross-examination in my experience is not usually appropriate in an inquiry of this nature. However, if you have any questions to put to another speaker I will allow them as long as they are properly phrased or put them through me if you wish. It is useful to me to highlight issues if you put your case to someone on the other side, and I encourage you to do so. There are some housekeeping matters that I must mention. Both myself and the shorthand writers will be very much helped by having copies of any prepared statements that any of you are going to read or refer to. I will ask you before you speak if you are going to provide me with a statement or a note because it will save a lot of note taking while you are speaking. I will ask, also, whether you have submitted a written representation. If you do not have copies already of your statement or notes please approach the representatives of the Boundary


Commission Secretariat during the adjournment and they will arrange for copies to be made for the Commission, the shorthand writers and myself. I am afraid, in common with the start of I think every local inquiry that I have been involved in, the local photocopier has packed up but an alternative is being earnestly arranged. Upon entering the room you may have been given the opportunity to record your name and address on an attendance list by one of the Commission representatives. If you have not done so already please ensure you do so during the short adjournment. Most importantly, please ensure your details are printed clearly. The advantage of completing the attendance list is that you will receive automatically a copy of my report once it is published by the Commission, together with the Commission's decision, and if you are mentioned in it your name is more likely to be spelt correctly. Signing the attendance list will assist also should it be necessary to evacuate the building during the course of the inquiry. I have been informed there is no question of a rehearsal evacuation so should the alarm sound it will be necessary for us to evacuate the building. The route is through that door marked Fire Exit, turn right through the automatic doors, once outside left across the road and assemble through the iron gates in the churchyard. Mr Bob Farrance of the Boundary Commission, who is present at the back, will organise us all and lead us hopefully to safety. Some other housekeeping matters. The hours of sitting we are aiming for are an hour for lunch starting at one o'clock. I will close the first day around five. If we are badly running behind time it may be necessary to arrange an evening session but we will play it by ear. There will be a tea/coffee break at about 3.30 this afternoon. Canteen facilities are not available in this hall but there are several amenities close by. As to other amenities, out of that door to the end and to the left along the corridor are the toilets, including disabled toilets, but also beyond there are tea and coffee machines. Other housekeeping. Can I please ask anybody with a mobile phone to turn it off or it will drive us mad. As far as the microphones - and this is very important - I am no expert with microphones but I have to press the green button to speak and when I have finished I have to press it again to turn it off. Each of you when you give evidence to this inquiry will have your own microphone and I must ask you to do the same thing. We are all going to forget at some time but if we do and if we lose anything, we will have to go back and do it all again because I must have a transcript of what you say. Finally, following the announcement of this inquiry the Commission received some further written representations. It was not possible for these representations to be placed on deposit for public inspection, however a list summarising them and copies of each of the representations are available also at the desk by the entrance to this hall. That is all I want to say for my opening remarks. I will adjourn now for ten minutes and it will be helpful if those persons who intend to say something to me during the course of the inquiry come up and we can formally discuss the procedure. We will need names and the organisation you represent if you are here in that capacity. It will be helpful also if we know the constituency and ward you want to speak about and whether you have put something in writing to us already. Also I would like you to indicate your preferred time for speaking. I am aware many of you will want to speak today but I am sure you will understand that I may have to ask some of


you to speak tomorrow if the inquiry extends, as it is likely to do, to a second day. Please be flexible. If you cannot attend the inquiry apart from today I will endeavour to fit you in. I understand there are a number of Members of Parliament here this morning. Parliament is sitting and I propose to give them priority so that they can go about their national business as soon as possible. We will now have a short break to enable that list to be made. Time Noted: 10.12am After a short break Time Noted: 10.28 am THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Can I resume the inquiry. It is now 10.28. We have done our list. There are several Members of Parliament who have to get away and I am going to give them priority. We will go through a number of MPs and one other lady who is a councillor who has to get away and then basically the Labour Party will present its evidence first and then the Conservatives will follow. If there are individuals that are in real trouble for tomorrow and want to speak today and anxious to speak today we will continuously keep that under review and try and fit them in. I am most anxious that anyone who wishes to speak and can only come for a limited time is heard. As for sittings, it is clear there are several speakers already listed by preference for tomorrow. The hours tomorrow will be just the same as today at the moment and that is ten to one and then two to five and an evening session only if it proves absolutely necessary. I would like to call on the first Member of Parliament: Mr George Stevenson, the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South MR STEVENSON (Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South): Mr Dalziel, good morning. I am George Stevenson and I am the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South. Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Commission for their provisional recommendations for Staffordshire and in particular Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. I believe the Commission have got in their recommendations the situation absolutely right. I would wish to add that I endorse entirely the Commission's decision to review Stoke-onTrent and Staffordshire together which, of course, is a crucial element in the proposals. This has always been the case previously, so it is not new, and in the present circumstances I believe this should continue. To have reviewed Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire separately would have created quite an unnecessary disruption of boundaries and created a wider disparity of electors. I note that this review was endorsed by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council when it made an initial review of the proposals earlier this year, I believe that to have been in March. I am at a


loss to understand how the Council has arrived at an entirely different view only a few weeks later. I do not know what has happened in the interim that has brought that situation about. Speaking of my own constituency, I believe that the counter-proposals being pressed are entirely illogical. They would cause maximum disruption and the constituency would lose cohesion with Fenton, a very important part of the Stoke-on-Trent constituency, being effectively carved out of that constituency, a move that would have a very serious knock-on effect. At present Stoke-on-Trent South, containing two of the six towns, namely Fenton and Longton, is homogeneous and that is obvious to those who live there and know it well. The present boundary is understood and recognised by local people. The notion that any part of Fenton should be moved out of Stoke-on-Trent constituency I believe would be greeted with horror by the electorate that would be affected. Fenton is a part of Stoke-on-Trent and has been for many years and is recognised clearly by the electorate and the communities involved as such. There is no justification for a complete revamp and, indeed, the only need is for what I would describe as a tidying up following ward boundary changes, thus causing minimum disruption. It is widely recognised that each Stoke-on-Trent constituency benefits from having two of the six towns within it: Stoke-on-Trent North, represented by Joan Walley, Tunstall and Burslem; my own constituency, Stoke-on-Trent South, Fenton and Longton; and Stoke-on-Trent Central, and my colleague Mark Fisher is here, Hanley and Stoke. That is recognised and it is accepted, it is understood, and I think any disruption of that would not only be unnecessary but very damaging. I would add that my impression is that the present arrangement, whereby Stoke-on-Trent North has some of the Staffordshire Moorlands within it, has settled down well and people have accepted it. In view of this, and recognising that there is need for a further minor modification between Stoke-on-Trent North and Staffordshire Moorlands, it would be quite logical and cause minor disruption to transfer the new Werrington ward to Stoke-on-Trent North, to join the other similar wards to its northern boundary. This one minor change would avoid any need to cause more serious and far reaching disruption in North Staffordshire. In conclusion, Mr Dalziel, I firmly support the Commission's draft proposals and reject as strongly as I possibly can the illogical counter-proposals that have been submitted. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Mr Stevenson. Mr Pratt, you are instructed on behalf of the Conservative Party for this inquiry, I should mention that Mr Martin, who sits here, is instructed on behalf of the Labour Party, those are the two members of the bar for the respective parties. It may be that you have some questions for this gentleman, Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: Yes, indeed, sir, I have a couple. You have mentioned, sir, that the position is that previously Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have been reviewed together, and indeed they have. Is it not the case that since the last review Stoke-on-Trent has become a unitary authority? MR STEVENSON: That is the case as I understand it but what we are dealing with here is the best way of reviewing the parliamentary boundaries in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, and I believe the point that you have made has no real bearing on the arguments I


put forward that the previous approach to this, that was mainly looking at Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire as one, needs to be changed. MR PRATT: But you will be aware, will you not, that the status of a unitary authority is the status of a county, so there are now two separate counties, are there not, there is a County of Staffordshire and a County of Stoke-on-Trent? MR STEVENSON: Yes. There is also an identification of community and parliamentary boundaries that has worked quite well in my view. When the same system was applied in previous reviews it resulted in some relatively minor changes but the principle was incorporated and that seems to have worked quite well. MR PRATT: Yes, but the point is, is it not, actually when that happened Stoke-on-Trent was not a unitary, it was part of Staffordshire, it was not a separate county at that stage? MR STEVENSON: I can go back quite a number of years to previous boundary changes when Stoke-on-Trent was the county borough and we had similar approaches. Whilst I recognise your argument, I do not agree with it and I hope that this inquiry will continue with the approach that has been applied in the past in previous parliamentary boundary reviews because that has worked quite well. MR PRATT: Are you aware, sir, of the rules under which the Boundary Commission operates, the rules for redistribution? MR STEVENSON: Generally speaking, yes. MR PRATT: And you are aware that Rule 4 suggests that no county or any part of a county shall be included in a constituency which includes the whole or part of any other county or the whole or part of any other borough? MR STEVENSON: Yes, I am aware of that, but there is also discretion that is allowed and I hope that this inquiry and Boundary Commission will use that discretion as it has done in the past. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Pratt, you will no doubt be addressing me on this point. I am anxious to get the local evidence on local matters and you are talking now really about an issue almost of law and I do not think it is right for you to put that to a succession of Members of Parliament, I think you should tackle me about that. MR PRATT: I will indeed do that, sir, and our overall statement will. Can I ask one final question of Mr Stevenson. He says he is at a loss to understand how Stoke-on-Trent Council has arrived at an entirely different view only a few weeks later. Might it not be the case that Stokeon-Trent Council have examined all the counter-proposals which they have had since they put in their original proposal and decided that actually because they are a unitary authority it is sensible to view Stoke-on-Trent separately? MR STEVENSON: Mr Pratt, you are entitled to that opinion but I do not know whether it will stand up to public scrutiny.


MR PRATT: I have no further questions. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin, do you want to ask anything? MR MARTIN: I have no questions, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Did anyone else want to ask Mr Stevenson any questions? (No response) Thank you very much. All witnesses obviously once they have given their evidence are free to stay or go as they wish. The next witness proposed is Mr Mark Fisher, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central. MR FISHER (Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central): Thank you very much indeed. As you said, my name is Mark Fisher, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central and I have been since 1983. Before that, since 1975, or between 1975 and 1983, I was the parliamentary candidate for Leek and Staffordshire Moorlands and I have been a county councillor, so my knowledge and involvement politically fighting elections in North Staffordshire goes back nearly 30 years. Like my colleague, George Stevenson, I support the Commission's provisional recommendations. In general and in principle I think that Rule 4 is a very sensible rule for the county but the Commission's own proposals or own provisions do allow for discretion in exceptional circumstances. Notwithstanding the fact that I think Rule 4 is a good, sensible rule to guide the Commission and the whole country, I think in this instance you have been correct in varying it slightly but significantly. Stoke-on-Trent is a strange city which has a thin corset off the valley and it is the only non-radial city in the country. It stretches down the valley for about 11 or 12 miles, it has had that corset for well over 100 years, and as a result it has always been a marginally too small population for three full constituencies. At the moment your own figures put it at 2.65. That has always been the case and, therefore, historically, to make up three constituencies we have always taken small amounts of neighbouring regions or occasionally Newcastle wards. To my knowledge, which goes back to 1945, and it has certainly been for the 30 years I have been here, that has been the case always. I think you are going with the grain of the lie of the land and the way the population has both lived and lived its lives. I support the small amendment you make, setting aside Rule 4, in coming to your conclusions. To turn briefly to my own constituency, you have kept the seven wards of my constituency very much as they are now and indeed the structure of the city as North, Central and South, the three horizontal bands with two of the six towns in each band. That is consistent - this is not just a sentimental point but on the history of the city - with the way the city lives its life. One of the problems of not being a regular city is that we have very bad communications through the city north and south, we have very bad transport links, although we are trying to resolve those. We do live a very stratified life. To illustrate that with a personal anecdote, my younger son, who is now 29, who has lived all his life in the city, was brought up in the city, it turned out a few years ago he dropped into the conversation that he had been brought up in the city, went to school in the city, he had never been to Tunstall. It is only four miles up the road but he had


never been there. I said "it is not possible, you must have been there" and he said "no, Dad, why should I? I do not know anybody there, all my school friends live in the south or centre of the city, all the pubs we go to are in the city, we do not need to move around the city. I am more likely to go to Manchester or Birmingham than go to Tunstall". I have nothing against Tunstall, Tunstall is a beautiful town. We are a very stratified city. We are also a very traditional city which makes for very strong communities. The horizontal strips of the city in three are not just convenient geographic divisions on a map, they actually reflect the way that people live their lives in the city. Many people very seldom move out, indeed they spend the whole of their lives in one of our constituencies. I have never understood how estate agents make a living here, we are so immobile as a city. I think that you are right to respect that, not just because of the present arrangements for the city, not because they look good on a map with two horizontal lines that split the city into three, but they do reflect the way that people live their lives. To end my remarks just very briefly I would like to refer to the points Mr Pratt was making on the Conservative counter-proposals. I think it is perfectly easy to see what they are trying to do as regards the order. There are of course always some cases, and I am sure Mr Pratt will make them to you but, in fact, as George Stevenson said, for Fenton to come into my constituency where it has absolutely no relationship at all would make no sense and, indeed, for Northwood and Birches Head which are right at the centre of my constituency and abut Hanley and the city centre and do not look north to Burslem and Tunstall in any way, the city does divide itself very evenly into three, I think they are not proposals which would accord, not just with me but with the desires and wishes of constituents either in Fenton or in Northwood and Birches Head and with the way they live their lives. In conclusion, Mr Dalziel, I believe with a difficult job the Commission has come to the right balance which both respects the shape and the way we live our lives in the city and allows for sensible parliamentary boundaries. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much indeed, Mr Fisher. Now Mr Pratt, any questions? MR PRATT: Thank you very much indeed. Am I right, did I hear you correctly, that you suggested that ever since the war Stoke-on-Trent constituencies have included parts outside Stoke-on-Trent? MR FISHER: Yes, sir. MR PRATT: I wonder if you will accept from me on the Boundary Commission for England's second periodical report which was presented to Parliament in June 1969, and was in effect until the boundary reorganisation came in in 1983, that at some stage Stoke-on-Trent Central consisted of wards nine to 16 of the borough of Stoke-on-Trent, that Stoke-on-Trent North consisted of wards one to eight of the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent and Stoke-onTrent South contained wards 17 to 24 of the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent? So up until the redistribution in 1983 the three Stoke-on-Trent constituencies were actually coterminous with the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent?


MR FISHER: I believe Mr Pratt actually is wrong. He will find that the Leek and Moorlands constituency always included, for instance Weston Coyney and Abbey Hilton. I am sure we can have an interesting historical discussion about the Boundary Commission but I know for a fact that he is wrong. My predecessor, Harold Davies, who was MP there for 30 years, always had wards from the city, both Abbey and Weston Coyney. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Fisher is a dangerous witness to attack on this, Mr Pratt. Certainly whether you are right or he is right, I agree entirely with him that it is not going to assist me in this inquiry to get into a long debate - interesting though I confess I find it on this. MR PRATT: He made the point in his evidence that it was ever since the war. I am absolutely convinced that I am right. I have a booklet in front of me which tells me so. The position has only obtained since 1983, so that was the point. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Yes. MR PRATT: I have one further minor question for Mr Fisher. As far as Northwood and Birches Head is concerned, although clearly the vast majority of the current ward is in your constituency you do acknowledge that nearly 500 electors are currently within the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency? MR FISHER: I do indeed. MR PRATT: No further questions. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are there any other questions? Mr Martin, do you have any? MR MARTIN: Yes, sir. I want to ask Mr Fisher, I think in the past you represented Werrington, or parts of Werrington. Have you got any comments on the proposed changes there? MR FISHER: The county council seat I had the privilege to represent was Werrington and Caverswall. It is a complicated area and I am not really qualified because my knowledge of it is now 20 years out of date. I think, again, looking at the lie of the city, the Werrington part of that ward which is on Ash Bank coming down into the city is less rural in its feel than the Caverswall part and therefore there is a case to be made. I am sure you are going to get a great deal of very passionate debate about that during the day. I do not think it is proper for me to intervene because, as I say, my involvement in the ward, which I enjoyed very much when I was a county councillor, is now 20 years out of date. MR MARTIN: Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions for Mr Fisher? (No response) Mr Fisher, for my part, you have been of very great assistance to me. Thank you very much. Now the next witness is Joan Walley the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North. MS WALLEY (Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North): Thank you very much indeed, Mr Dalziel.


My name is Joan Walley and I have been the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North for almost 15 years now. It is interesting to hear my colleague talk just now about Harold Davies because indeed it was Harold Davies at that time many, many years ago when I was at school who was my MP who was one of the people who encouraged me really to have an interest in politics in the first place. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I beg your pardon. It is very difficult to hear you. I think perhaps it would be better if you remain seated. MS WALLEY: Thank you, Mr Dalziel. My name is Joan Walley and I have been the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North for just about 15 years now. It is interesting to note that my colleague, Mark Fisher, ended his comments with a remark about Harold Davies because I just wanted to share with you that it was Harold Davies who at the time was my MP when I was at school and he encouraged me to get interested in politics. I would not be here today perhaps if it was not for him. That is just an aside. I want to speak very briefly in support of the provisional proposals which have been made by the parliamentary Boundary Commission. I think that representing Stoke-on-Trent North constituency, which I do, I really want to endorse, first of all, everything that has been said by my colleagues, George Stevenson and Mark Fisher. I think in terms of Stoke-on-Trent, the two towns, the towns of Burslem and Tunstall, they do have an affinity, they are side by side and there is a very, very strong sense of place which I think people in that part of the city have towards those two areas. I want to really see a proposal come forward from the Boundary Commission which recognises those traditional areas and does not seek to break them up in any way. One of the things which I feel is important in the Boundary Commission reaching its proposals is to really understand the importance of not having parliamentary constituencies which would be either greatly above or greatly below an average size. I feel as though I can speak about this with some experience and qualifications because up until the last boundary review, when in fact at that stage Stoke North constituency consisted of the borough of Newcastle, the constituency I represented was well, well over the average size of a parliamentary constituency. So I do know first hand how important it is that we should have that equalisation of size. I think at the last boundary review I was very sorry indeed to lose a significant part of the constituency where I had worked very hard and built up very, very good links with both communities in that area. I think the boundary changes came about and it is the case that since then I have worked equally hard, as I am sure any Member of Parliament has, to establish close links with the parts which came into this Stoke North constituency, namely Brown Edge, Bagnall, Stanley and Endon. I feel that it is the case that those new arrangements work well. It is equally the case that when it comes to a parliamentary constituency, to have the link between urban and rural, between the city and the countryside areas, that is an important balance I think when making sure that issues of local concern can be represented in Parliament. I would urge you really to look very closely at the need to have an equalisation of size in the constituencies and not to give us a constituency which would be massively greater than or substantially smaller than the average. Therefore, I do support your draft principles based on having Staffordshire as a whole and not singling out Stoke-on-Trent.


I wish, also, to make the point about whatever the outcome should be that you really look to see how you have minimum disruption. I would really hate to have a situation whereby some constituents could find themselves in a situation where they maybe find themselves in three different parliamentary constituencies in the space of ten years. I do believe that the whole debate which is going on at the moment as to how people engage in politics and the importance of parliamentary democracy needs to have a certain understanding. I think that proposals need time to get bedded in and I think it would be disruptive to have a further substantial and significant change following on from the boundary changes which came in in 1997. So I do urge you to look at that really carefully. I think minimum disruption and minimum change are important. I would like to say that since the changes in 1997 I have worked hard to establish links with the area which came in and certainly links with colleagues at Westminster, whatever the political party, are on a regular basis in respect of both the area of Stoke-on-Trent and also in respect of the Staffordshire and Staffordshire Moorlands MPs as well. I meet regularly with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. I very much welcome your opening comments that this is about parliamentary constituencies, it is not about county boundaries. I know some very good colleagues of other parties who are at the hearing today. Let me give you one example of how we work together. There was an issue of liquid condensate which was for many years a matter which current constituents of mine in Bagnall have not been able to deal with at all. They mounted a very, very effective campaign which ended up actually getting the legislation changed. I would say to you I do not think there is any possibility that there would not be proper representation in Parliament with the proposals which are being brought forward at the moment which I am speaking in support of. I would like finally to say two more things. It may well be - I would not dare to suggest myself - that the hearing may like to consider whether or not some changes might be appropriate to the names of any parliamentary constituency coming out of your final recommendations and that might perhaps help address the issues of people's sense of belonging and geographical areas. Finally, Mr Dalziel, I have read the comments which have been made by people in response to your draft proposals and I have gone through some of those and I am happy to hand to you some of the comments which I have on some of the proposals which you have received. I do understand that whenever there are going to be changes, however much they may be on the very edges, they are going to cause concern and I do very much understand people in Werrington do have strong feelings about this. All I can say is that any MP, myself included, will do their level best to make sure that any changes can be accommodated by the outcome of the boundary review. Thank you for the opportunity of allowing me to speak to you today. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Ms Walley. Have you any questions, Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: Thank you very much indeed. You mentioned Burslem and Tunstall, under the counter proposals those would remain within your constituency, would they not?


MS WALLEY: Yes, it is the case that they would, yes. MR PRATT: You made great play of the importance of constituencies as near the electoral quota as possible. Would you acknowledge that our counter-proposal actually means that your constituency, or the constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North, would actually be closer to the electoral quota than the proposal of the Boundary Commission? MS WALLEY: I think, as in any review, we have to have a look at the overall area we are looking at and if you are seeking to equalise you have to do that on the best basis that there is across the area. I would add as well the importance of not having confusion where people might find themselves in three different constituencies over a ten year period. I think that everything has to be balanced and made up in the greater picture. MR PRATT: You did make great play of the fact that a constituency should not be greatly above or below the electoral quota. You do acknowledge, do you, that our counter-proposals for Stoke-on-Trent North are closer to the electoral quota than are the Commission's proposals? MS WALLEY: I am sure that numbers are one of the things that a boundary review looks at. MR PRATT: You talked about minimum disruption. It would not be minimum disruption for the people of Werrington, would it? MS WALLEY: I think one of the issues here is in terms of the building blocks which are used in terms of local wards. I do feel, again, that when it comes to balancing all of the issues that has to be looked at. I do sympathise with the people of Werrington but I wonder how much their concerns are looking at the parliamentary boundaries rather than perhaps some of the speculation there has been in the media that this is about changing people to different council services, which it clearly is not. MR PRATT: In terms of the people you currently represent within the Staffordshire Moorlands district, you acknowledge, do you, from the representations that there is also strong feeling amongst the people in those two wards that they would like to return to Staffordshire Moorlands, so they do not want minimum disruption, a lot of people in those two wards want to return from whence they came, to return to Staffordshire Moorlands? MS WALLEY: Mr Dalziel, I would say in reply to that that I think it is quite significant that in all the correspondence and representations I have had that I have not had one councillor or one constituent who has said to me that they would wish the current status quo arrangements to actually change. Indeed, many people have said that they are very, very content with the situation that is there at the moment. Whatever their views, they certainly have not made them to me as the Member of Parliament. MR PRATT: You accept presumably that they have made them to the Boundary Commission? MS WALLEY: People can put whatever representations from political parties that they may wish to put. I am talking about constituents and elected representatives who I work very closely with who have been very happy to work with a Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North.


MR PRATT: If it was decided that Stoke-on-Trent was treated as a unitary authority, surely that would not be particularly disruptive in as much as there would then be three constituencies totally within Stoke-on-Trent and you would deal with just one authority, the unitary authority? That would be the case if it was decided that the unitary authority boundaries should be the same. As far as your urban and rural suggestion, which goes against what the Labour Party often say, in terms of your two colleagues who have already spoken, they presumably represent urban constituencies and do not have the same rural element that you do because you have got a bit of Staffordshire Moorlands? MS WALLEY: I am not quite sure of the point that is being made behind the questioning at the moment. The most important thing I would say is that it is up to any Member of Parliament to represent those electors in that constituency and certainly that is what I do to the best of my ability. MR PRATT: Thank you very much. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin, do you have any questions? MR MARTIN: No, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Does anybody else have any questions? MR THOMAS: Ms Walley, you mentioned that you used to represent a different part of Staffordshire, would you name that area, please? MS WALLEY: Yes, the part of Staffordshire is that part which at that time was in Stoke-onTrent North constituency which were the wards of, at that stage, Talke, Butt Lane, Kidsgrove and Newchapel that are part of Newcastle. It was a substantial change. It was four wards which were changed at the time of the last boundary review when the last recommendations came in in 1997. REVD HUMPHREYS: I am John Humphreys, Vicar of Werrington. Mr Fisher remarked that it would be good to have some more urban parts of Werrington. I think he described the Werrington ward as being linked with the city because it was more urban. Ms Walley, you suggested that it would be nice to have urban-rural areas linked with your constituency. Could you tell us whether you consider Werrington to be urban or rural or whether perhaps you and Mr Fisher are bending the facts to reach the desired conclusion? MS WALLEY: Not at all. I am someone who passionately believes in environmental issues and I am always absolutely determined to look at the interchange between rural and urban in order that we have environmental sustainability. That is, if you like, something which underpins much of the work I do. I think in terms of Werrington, it depends where you are looking at. If you are standing in Bagnall and you are looking at the extent of the forest as it goes round, it is an extension to that rural part of the Staffordshire Moorlands area which is currently in Stoke North constituency. I do think it is a matter of where your starting point is and where you are looking at it from. REVD HUMPHREYS: The heart of your constituency I understand to be the towns of Burslem and Tunstall. Could you tell me how strong the links are between Werrington and the


towns of Burslem and Tunstall? I would submit that with the exception of Port Vale supporters and a limited number of people who work in that area, which I think is quite limited, the links are not strong, in fact they are a darn sight weaker than they are with some other parts of the city. MS WALLEY: Mr Dalziel, I would just say from my knowledge of the area and living in the area that Stoke-on-Trent North constituency, in so far as it is Burslem, Tunstall, Brown Edge, Endon, Bagnall and Stanley, is that area and all of those areas each, whether it is a village, whether it is a rural area or whether it is a town, have their own very parochial sense of identity. In my work as an MP I see and work with those people on the issues that they think are important. I would not say that there is a heart as such of the entire constituency, for the people who live in that area it has its own heart and that is what important. Certainly in terms of the travel to work area from parts of Stoke-on-Trent people do have to travel all around. It is important that people in their own communities are able to work together at what is best. REVD HUMPHREYS: I do not think you answered my question but I hope in his researches that Mr Dalziel will address himself to the links between Burslem and Tunstall on the one hand and Werrington on the other. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I would like to enquire at this point on something which relates to what you told me and to some extent what Mr Fisher has told me. Werrington ward does not have any common boundary with your constituency at all save through Brown Edge, Endon, Bagnall and Stanley, is that right? MS WALLEY: I beg your pardon? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: As I look at the plan, Werrington ward is immediately opposite Stoke-on-Trent Central, it is not opposite Stoke-on-Trent North. Have I got that right? MS WALLEY: It adjoins the Staffordshire Moorlands part of my constituency. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: It does not adjoin Stoke North at all, does it, as a matter of geography? MS WALLEY: It adjoins the constituency, yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: It adjoins Stoke Central, it does not adjoin in the sense of the word. It is besides, in fact, physically the boundary as to its west with Stoke Central, not with your constituency. Is that right? MS WALLEY: I always thought of it adjoining the area. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: As a matter of physical fact have I misunderstood the geography or not? MS WALLEY: I understood that the northern boundary adjoins Stoke North. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Could you say that again?


MS WALLEY: I understood that the northern boundary adjoins Stoke-on-Trent North. Do you mean the constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Sorry, it is my fault, I am not making myself clear. I am looking at the city boundaries of Stoke-on-Trent North, leaving aside the connection that was introduced last time by the Staffordshire Moorlands, and in the context of the city boundaries Werrington adjoins Stoke Central, not your constituency. It is only through the link through the Moorlands introduced last time that there is any link at all. MS WALLEY: I was talking about parliamentary boundaries, I had not understood that you were talking about the City of Stoke-on-Trent boundaries. You are correct, in so far as it adjoins parliamentary boundaries, that is also the case. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I think that is the point that the good vicar was partly driving at. REVD HUMPHREYS: Thank you, sir, yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: There is not any real connection between Werrington ward within the city boundary and the Stoke North part of your constituency. MS WALLEY: Yes, but I thought we were talking about parliamentary boundaries. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Yes, we are indeed, that is actually what we are here for, I do not disagree about that. Also I was interested in what Mr Fisher perhaps implied rather than said. Before the last review you, in fact, were involved in wards to the north of the city boundary, is that right? MS WALLEY: Yes, the four wards which were previously in Stoke-on-Trent North were Kidsgrove, Newchapel, Butt Lane and Talke. That was very much to the north. That was directly to the north where the wards which currently lie are slightly to the north east. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I have not yet, but I will after this inquiry, had a good look, but just a preliminary glance. I was interested in what Mr Fisher described as the flow up the valley north-south, as it were, of the City of Stoke and the three pairs of twin towns. From what I observe there appears to be more of an urban flow from the northern boundary of Stoke North to those four wards. That is perhaps more urban than places like Werrington are. Do you follow that? MS WALLEY: Which four wards? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: The four you just mentioned. MS WALLEY: I think equally in terms of people driving to work in the Brown Edge and Endon areas there is a flow as well. It is a question of where you draw the lines. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Did anybody have any other questions arising out of that?


CLLR JEBB: My name is Christina Jebb and I am a County Councillor for Brown Edge, Endon, Bagnall and Stanley and Stockton Brook which are the wards under discussion, together with Biddulph South and Biddulph North. Ms Walley, you said that it would be wrong if residents were placed in three different parliamentary constituencies within ten years. That is correct, is it not? MS WALLEY: I said it would be a matter of concern if there were constant changes. Where there are changes they do need to have an opportunity to bed in so the full advantages can be gain from them. CLLR JEBB: Would you also agree that it is important to right any mistakes that were made at previous boundary reviews? I am concerned from your remarks this morning that you do not seem to be aware of the strength of feeling against the inclusion of those wards that I have mentioned in Stoke-on-Trent, those are the wards of Brown Edge, Endon, Bagnall and Stanley and Stockton Brook, as well as the concern that we see here from the representatives who are representing Werrington today. There is a very real concern about the inclusion that was made of our wards in Stoke-on-Trent North last time and the proposals to include Werrington as well this time. I have a second question, sir. Ms Walley, you said also that you would like to see appropriate changes to names of constituencies to address people's sense of belonging. Surely it would be better to align constituencies themselves appropriately to people's sense of belonging rather than simply trying to add on different names? MS WALLEY: I think my response to the second point that has just been made, Mr Dalziel, is where you do have parliamentary constituencies and you have names for them, because there has been realignment over time, sometimes the areas which are represented are not properly represented in the title. I think it is important that there should be a clear understanding of where parliamentary boundaries and constituencies are so people actually understand that. The first point you made, Councillor Jebb, can you just remind me of it, please? CLLR JEBB: Yes. The first point was that you had said you felt it would be wrong if people were in three different constituencies within ten years and I asked you whether you felt it was important also to right any mistakes which had been made at a previous boundary review by returning people who were not happy in Stoke-on-Trent North constituency to the one they felt they belonged to, which is Staffordshire Moorlands? MS WALLEY: I would expect the boundary review to take account of all representations. I would say that in all the working arrangements that I have had, both with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, individual constituency surgeries I do, public meetings which I attend, some with Councillor Jebb and her colleagues, the issue of people not wanting to be in that constituency has not been raised with me. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Does anyone else have any questions for Ms Walley? (No response) Thank you very much, Ms Walley. Next on the list is Charlotte Atkins from Staffordshire Moorlands.


MS ATKINS (Member of Parliament for Staffordshire Moorlands): Thank you very much, Mr Dalziel. As the Member of Parliament for the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency since 1997, I will confine my remarks to the changes proposed for my constituency of Staffordshire Moorlands. First I would like to address the issue surrounding Werrington. No Member of Parliament likes to lose any part of their constituency and I am no exception. If the status quo was a viable option that would be my choice. But the need to reduce the disparity in size between the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent constituencies makes this impossible. The splitting of Werrington village into two local government wards from the one threemember ward that existed before the most recent Local Government Boundary changes opened the way for the Boundary Commission to move 2,822 Werrington electors into the parliamentary constituency of Stoke North. Certainly I sympathise with those in Werrington who do not want to undergo change, but the scale of local opposition to the change has partly been fuelled by the misconception that the newly created Werrington ward would not just move to Stoke North for parliamentary electoral purposes, but also would be administered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council rather than Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. Concern has been expressed that council tax would rise and that standards and amenities in the areas would be lowered. As the whole of Werrington will continue to receive services from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, there is no foundation to these fears. Werrington Church, village hall and Methodist Chapel will still come under Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and not Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Some Werrington residents have expressed fears about confusion caused as a result of having two MPs representing different parts of Werrington. It is true that there could be some confusion, but on the whole constituents in the parliamentary constituency of Stone, Stoke-onTrent North and Staffordshire Moorlands have become well aware of the boundaries established five years ago. But in order to promote clarity and greater understanding of the diversity within those constituencies which include wards administered by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, I would urge the Boundary Commission to consider renaming some constituencies. For instance, Staffordshire Moorlands, my own constituency, to become Staffordshire Moorlands and Kidsgrove; Stoke-on-Trent North to become Stoke-on-Trent North and West Moorlands. It is fallacious in my view to suggest, as some residents have, that Werrington will lose out as a result of being represented by two MPs. It could be beneficial. This is something which my colleague, Joan Walley, has mentioned already. Recently the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Joan Walley, and I worked closely on a rural problem affecting areas of both our constituencies. Working in partnership with Joan Walley, she and I achieved a change in the law to prevent the spreading of foul smelling liquid condensate on fields in both of our constituencies. This had


been a problem long before I became the MP for Staffordshire Moorlands in 1997, and I believe we were more effective in persuading Government to change the law because we were working together over a period of something like three to four years. The present Stoke-on-Trent North parliamentary constituency includes the Staffordshire Moorlands wards of Brown Edge, Endon, Bagnall and Stanley. These wards have not suffered any adverse effects from the move in 1997. I do not believe there is any reason why Werrington should either. The community of Werrington, certainly the new ward, traditionally looks towards Stokeon-Trent rather than other more urban parts of the Staffordshire Moorlands district with many people travelling to the city to work, shop and use leisure and other amenities. Transport between Werrington and the Moorlands towns of Leek, Cheadle and Biddulph is much less easy than transport into the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Werrington lies on one of the main trunk roads into the city and therefore its communications with the city are very good. It is just five years since there was a substantial change to the parliamentary constituency boundaries within Stoke-on-Trent North and Staffordshire Moorlands. If the least disruptive option of moving Werrington ward into Stoke-on-Trent North is not adopted then a great many more electors will face another major change before they have become fully familiar with the existing parliamentary boundaries. Taking 2,822 Werrington electors from Staffordshire Moorlands to Stoke-on-Trent North would cause the minimum disturbance to the whole area and would be the most efficient way of adjusting the disparities in size between the constituencies. Now I would like to turn to the issues surrounding Kidsgrove and the proposals to take Kidsgrove out of the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. The other main option proposed to equalize the electorate between constituencies is to split the community of Kidsgrove which now comprises five wards: Kidsgrove, Newchapel, Talke, Butt Lane and the new Ravenscliffe ward. This would be a retrograde step as the community of Kidsgrove embraces the whole area. Until 1974, Kidsgrove was an urban district council embracing what are now the five wards of Ravenscliffe, Newchapel, Kidsgrove, Butt Lane and Talke. Then it was taken into the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. But Kidsgrove's links with Newcastle are poor, being separated by the A34, a dual carriageway road. Kidsgrove was included within the Leek parliamentary constituency for many years. It came out and became part of Stoke-on-Trent North but at no time was the town of Kidsgrove split. The integrity of Kidsgrove was always maintained. Various proposals are now suggesting that the Talke, Butt Lane and Ravenscliffe wards should be split from the Kidsgrove and Newchapel wards. This would not be sensible as the community links across these wards are very strong. Kidsgrove as a whole has its own town council and mayor. It has a single annual carnival, which is enjoyed by the whole community. Sport has always provided a strong community focus. Kidsgrove's local football club has been increasingly successful recently. It is known as Kidsgrove Athletic but it is actually based in Butt Lane ward. Similarly, Kidsgrove Cricket Club is based in Butt Lane but it is a community club with members throughout the


Kidsgrove area. Clough Hall Park is the venue for many Kidsgrove events but it falls within Butt Lane ward. Clough Hall Secondary School in Butt Lane has achieved Specialist Technology status and as such is required to provide access to its excellent ICT facilities and expertise. It works with schools across Ravenscliffe and Kidsgrove wards, as well as providing a Learn Direct Centre for Kidsgrove community education. The integrity of Kidsgrove as a town is recognized also by the creation of a Kidsgrove Regeneration Forum to bring together elected representatives from the town council, the borough council, the county council and from Parliament along with community organisations to focus on projects and schemes to improve the whole of Kidsgrove. The town has the advantage of its own railway station close to the Trent and Mersey Canal, which provides real potential for tourism; it also has its own local newspaper, the Kidsgrove News. Kidsgrove Town Hall is a real focal point for the whole community and it houses important local services: the payments office for Newcastle Borough Council, a Social Services office, the Newcastle housing office and behind it is the excellent Kidsgrove Citizens Advice Bureau. Such a strong community with its own clear identity should not be split. It has not in the past and there is no clear reason why it should be now. So I urge the Boundary Commission to confirm its original proposal, transferring the new Werrington ward into Stoke-on-Trent North rather than embarking on much greater and more disruptive changes. Thank you Mr Dalziel. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: questions? Thank you very much. Mr Pratt, have you any

MR PRATT: Thank you very much indeed. Firstly, you have made great play about not splitting Kidsgrove. Why is it satisfactory to split Werrington but not Kidsgrove? Why can you split the village of Werrington but not split Kidsgrove? MS ATKINS: I said at the outset that I do not think it is a perfect solution to split Werrington. It is a much smaller community. Already there has been a split by the introduction of two local government wards whereas Kidsgrove is a very strong town which has been, until 1974, an urban district council. In fact if you were to ask the people of Kidsgrove would they rather stay with Newcastle or revert back to an urban district council, then I am sure that would be what they would want to do because they do see themselves as extremely separate from other towns. That is because they are separated by the A24. There is a lot of open space between Kidsgrove and Newcastle. They do not feel part of Newcastle. They do not feel part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent either. Clearly, I know you are going to raise the issue, are they very closely aligned with Staffordshire Moorlands and I would say certainly no, they are not, but over the last five years it has worked extremely well as a constituency. Indeed, my own parliamentary office is actually based in Kidsgrove. MR PRATT: Just going on the Kidsgrove item for a minute and then we will move on to Werrington. In terms of Kidsgrove, am I not right in saying in terms of the A34, the A34


connects Newcastle, Butt Lane and Talke and in fact Talke is very close to Newcastle along the A34. You just go up the A34 and you come to Talke? MS ATKINS: The bulk of the population is in Kidsgrove and Newchapel. What I am saying is that Talke and Butt Lane look very much towards Kidsgrove, they do not look in the other direction towards Newcastle. MR PRATT: Even the people at the southern end of Talke, which is probably as close to Newcastle as it is to the rest of Kidsgrove? MS ATKINS: No, I think indeed that they look very much towards Kidsgrove. I mentioned Kidsgrove Town Hall, it is very much the centre of activity. It is where people pay their rent if they are in Newcastle housing. It is very much a community separate from Newcastle itself and that is the way it has always operated. MR PRATT: In terms of the possible boundaries, I wonder if you could contrast what the boundary between Butt Lane and Talk with the other three Kidsgrove wards is with the parliamentary boundary under our counter-proposals which would exist between the Werrington ward and the Cellarhead ward? MS ATKINS: Sorry, can you repeat that because I am not sure what you are saying there. MR PRATT: Obviously there are Boundary Commission proposals to have a boundary between Werrington and Cellarhead wards to become a parliamentary boundary and our counterproposals have a boundary between Butt Lane and Talke and the other three Kidsgrove wards. I wonder if you can say what the boundary is in each case. MS ATKINS: Clearly Kidsgrove has always been one community when it has been moved in and out of different constituency areas. I would also say about Werrington that that only has happened because the local government, with the support of the district council, chose to split the community of Werrington into two separate wards. Clearly I can appreciate why people in the new Werrington ward do not want to go into another constituency, I indeed do not want them to go either because I have worked very hard on a lot of local issues in Werrington, but, having said that, my constituency only contains 17 of 27 Staffordshire Moorlands wards and as such Staffordshire Moorlands constituency, certainly since I have been the MP, has never attempted to represent the whole of the Moorlands. In terms of confusion, I addressed that point. The point I was making was it would be easier to encourage those members of Werrington, the 2,822 members who will presently go into Stoke North, and easier to explain the situation as far as they going into the more rural area of Stoke North than it will be to turn back history as far as the whole of Kidsgrove is concerned. MR PRATT: I would be grateful if I could have an answer to my question. Are you aware of what the boundary would be between Butt Lane and Talke and the other three Kidsgrove wards under our proposal? MS ATKINS: Presumably you know, I do not know. MR PRATT: Would you accept from me that it is the railway line?


MS ATKINS: Okay. MR PRATT: I wonder if you could explain to us what the boundary between Werrington and Cellarhead wards is? MS ATKINS: It is a road. MR PRATT: Sorry? MS ATKINS: It is a road. MR PRATT: Just one road? MS ATKINS: No, it is more than one road. MR PRATT: Does the boundary go up the middle of various residential roads? MS ATKINS: I have to say I have a constituency which has common boundaries with ten other constituencies. If you were to look at all the boundaries, including the boundaries in Froghall, for instance, the boundary in Froghall goes through the middle of Thomas Bolton's copper works. Boundaries are not always very convenient, I appreciate that, but as I do have a number of constituency boundaries that there are question marks over---- In fact, on one occasion when I was attending a meeting at Thomas Bolton's my colleague, Mr Bill Cash, arrived at the meeting and asked me why I was there. I said "Part of this site comes within my constituency". It is unfortunate whether we are talking about London boroughs or about an area like the Staffordshire Moorlands that boundaries can be difficult and frequently I have to say, especially in the Kingsley, Froghall area I have to revert to looking at postcodes sometimes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Forgive me a moment but you are responding to a question. Mr Pratt, I am going to go and look at the physical evidence on the ground in the cases that you are referring to. You are rightly flagging up these matters and I assure you that I shall be following through on them. I do not think it is useful now to have a general chat about the whole of the boundaries that are in dispute. Do you have any other questions, Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: Yes, I have a further question, sir. Within your constituency at the moment is Werrington Primary School, is it not? MS ATKINS: Indeed, yes. MR PRATT: Am I right in saying that Werrington Primary School is on two sites, one is the infants school and one is the junior school? MS ATKINS: Indeed, yes, but that is about to change. MR PRATT: The current position is that the infants school would be in Cellarhead and the junior school would be in Werrington? MS ATKINS: As I say, the sites are changing. The point is the school would still come under the district council. My colleague here will probably explain later on in her own evidence


exactly what is happening with the site but certainly it is not going to be split on two sites. We all know, do we not, that having two sites, as indeed with St Mary's School in Leek, is problematic for a school irrespective of where the parliamentary boundary might be. The issue here is that the school will still come under the same education authority whichever side it is on. MR PRATT: But as a Member of Parliament, Members of Parliament have to deal particularly with school admissions and school problems, do they not, a number of parents will write to them about school admission policy? MS ATKINS: I deal with the school admission problems occasionally but, as demonstrated in my initial statement, I work very closely not only with Joan Walley but other colleagues on a number of joint issues. I think that to have two MPs representing the interests of a school would be an advantage, not a disadvantage. MR PRATT: I am right in saying that any secondary pupils in Werrington who live in the Werrington ward would go to Moorside High School in Cellarhead ward, would they not? MS ATKINS: Indeed they would. MR PRATT: Am I right in saying that whereas the Werrington post office is in the Cellarhead ward, the Werrington Village Hall and library are in Werrington ward? MS ATKINS: That is right. MR PRATT: So basically the village of Werrington would be split down the middle by the Boundary Commission's proposals? MS ATKINS: They would be split by the parliamentary boundary, yes, but what has been misconstrued in the village itself is that somehow one part of the village would be administered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council - if you decide to look at the statements that have been given to the Boundary Commission - and somehow the other half would be in the district council. We all know, do we not, that the whole of the village will remain under the auspices of the district council and will continue to receive their services from the district council and the fact that Joan Walley or I represent different parts of the village will make no difference to the school, it will make no difference to the village hall, it will make no difference to the post office. MR PRATT: You admitted earlier that people who live in Werrington would be confused as to whether they were in the Stoke-on-Trent North parliamentary constituency or in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency depending on which part of Werrington they live. MS ATKINS: There might be some confusion but likewise there is confusion over the boundary between Biddulph and Congleton, there is confusion over the boundary between Staffordshire Moorlands and Cheadle and Stone. There were quite a few problems because what has been made clear in Sir David Knox's evidence is that however you rejig the boundaries the whole of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council cannot be included in a Staffordshire Moorlands constituency because the numbers would be too many. Obviously the Boundary Commission does have to make hard decisions about equalising the number of electors in parliamentary constituencies.


MR PRATT: But you would acknowledge by splitting Werrington in two and putting part of Werrington within Stoke-on-Trent North parliamentary constituency, that does break local ties and cause inconvenience to the electorate? MS ATKINS: Dilhorne is another village which is split between Staffordshire Moorlands and Stone. I have been in meetings in Dilhorne, again with Mr Bill Cash, and we have had to work out which part of the village someone is from before we know which MP represents them. Having said that, we still work extremely well together on problems of Dilhorne, particularly in terms of the foot and mouth crisis we met farmers and the parish council together to discuss these issues. I do not believe that could not also happen with the general public. MR PRATT: But local ties would be broken by these proposals. MS ATKINS: I do not believe local ties would be broken. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I think you have made this point very thoroughly now. There are a number of people who I can tell are clearly very concerned and there are contrary views to be put and I would like them to be put, so I would like to move on as we best we can. MR PRATT: I have finished, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you. Mr Martin? MR MARTIN: No, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are there any questions? CLLR DAY (County Councillor, Werrington ward): I would just like to ask Ms Atkins whether she is aware that there have been 620 objections to this proposal by the Boundary Commission. You have seen the counter-proposals put forward by the Conservative Party, by the Liberal Democrats, by the Parish Council. Would you not accept that those figures do address the concerns and the criteria of the Boundary Commission for England? The people of Werrington ward, as you quite rightly said, expressed concern regarding their village hall, their church, their chapel and quite rightly, as you said, they do not move but they are concerns of local people. I have been out in that ward time and time again in the last few weeks explaining to people that they will still pay their rates to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and they come back and say "We simply do not want to vote for a Stoke North MP". Quite honestly, Ms Atkins, should you not be listening to the people who voted for you to represent them in the Houses of Parliament. (Cries of Hear! Hear!) THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: You are asking questions at the moment. You have asked the question now with some support, let the lady answer, please. MS ATKINS: I certainly have read all those letters and, as Mr Day knows, I also offered to meet the parish council but unfortunately the parish council did not come back to me with a date when we could meet outside my normal parliamentary duties. I had two letters myself from people of Werrington who wrote to me on these issues, which is not a huge number I have to say. I am concerned about the people of Werrington but, as I pointed out, Dilhorne manages perfectly


well as do the people of Froghall who have two MPs representing their area. This is seen as a huge problem but I think if you look at many of the letters there is confusion there about the fact that Werrington is going to be split, not just for parliamentary purposes but between Stoke-onTrent City Council and the district council. I believe that a lot of the feeling within Werrington is related to that issue. Even those who recognise that Werrington will be staying within the district council, many of those letters use the term "thin end of the wedge", that comes up in many of the letters, so it is perceived even if the new Werrington ward is not going to Stoke-on-Trent City Council, that somehow the hidden agenda is what will happen in the future. That clearly is not the case, that has not happened in Dilhorne, it has not happened in Froghall and it has not happened in other areas which are split between Staffordshire Moorlands constituency and other constituencies that represent the other ten Staffordshire Moorlands district wards which lie outside Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. I understand the pain of the people of Werrington but I point to the other wards that presently are outside the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency and the fact that they are doing very well despite the fact that they are in other constituencies. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Ms Atkins, thank you. Any other questions? MR RAISTRICK: I am Trevor Raistrick, a resident of Werrington. Ms Atkins made out that communications into Stoke-on-Trent were much better and that Werrington Village naturally faced towards Stoke-on-Trent. Would she acknowledge that the bus services on which they are based actually go to Leek and Cheadle and although for entertainment and other things we do use the facilities of a large city, for our local council services and markets the residents of Werrington still feel very much part of Cheadle and Leek and do use those equally good bus services, because they are the same services, the other way? MS ATKINS: Certainly people of Werrington also go to Cheadle. I am sure that people of Werrington also visit Leek. Of course I would point out that Cheadle is not within the constituency of Staffordshire Moorlands, it is within the constituency of Stoke. Certainly I would say that the transport links with the city are much better than with those of either Cheadle or Leek. Even in terms of looking towards Cheadle, I think that reinforces the point I made that many wards presently under the district council do not come within my constituency of Staffordshire Moorlands. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions? REVD HUMPHREYS: Ms Atkins, if I was cynically to suggest the reason that you would rather see Werrington split from Kidsgrove is that a larger number of people from Kidsgrove would be in your constituency as a result of having Kidsgrove split from Werrington, if I made that cynical suggestion what would you say? MS ATKINS: I would say that the numbers, in fact, do not add up. If you split Kidsgrove without making a whole lot of other changes it would be very disruptive. It is not an option of just splitting Kidsgrove or just splitting Werrington because the figures do not add up. The town of Kidsgrove is much larger than Werrington so a whole lot of other changes have to be made as well.


THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions? CLLR DAY: Sir, you did not allow me to ask the question regarding schools in Werrington. The position with schools at this moment in time, sir, is ---THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: If you are going to put a question, put a question, do not make a speech. Put a question and she will answer it and we will move on. CLLR DAY: I just wanted to clarify the position with the schools, sir. There is no move to move the schools into one site at this moment in time. The position is this: the county council education department have several projects that they would like to do and one of them is to move the two sites of Werrington School on to one. There is no financing identified for that at this moment in time. There have been no plans made up for this move. At this moment in time the schools would remain on two sites. MS ATKINS: Was that a question? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: That is the question, now let her answer. MS ATKINS: Thank you, Mr Dalziel. Certainly as well all know these boundary changes are not intended for the next election but the election after that. I would have expected that by then certainly the money would be found to put the school on one site. We all know - I am still a school governor myself - that split sites do not really work and it is not good for the education of the children. MR LOVATT: I am a resident of Werrington. I have been listening to this and listening in fact to this equalisation of the numbers for voters. If the equalisation is to arrive at the same number of voters for each area why not change the boundaries between Stoke North, Stoke South and Stoke Central and leave Werrington alone? MS ATKINS: I think we have already heard evidence from my colleagues, Mark Fisher, George Stevenson and Joan Walley, why that would not make sense. They have made a good case to demonstrate that those boundaries between those constituencies are natural boundaries based on the historic town of Stoke-on-Trent. I think they were much better able to make that argument than a relatively new girl like myself who has only been around since 1997 as an MP. MR LOVATT: All right. When we are talking about numbers of voters is it vital in fact that they should be the same? Different areas obviously have different numbers of voters. At the end of the day surely as far as voting for the successful person who stands for Parliament it depends on the percentage of votes they get and not the actual numbers. I would suggest then the numbers within the areas are not important. It is the percentage of votes that they want, whether it is 20,000 within a particular area or 200. MS ATKINS: You may well believe that. I can understand your thoughts on that. It is the remit of the Boundary Commission to, as far as possible, equalise numbers within constituencies. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are there any other questions?


MR THOMAS: Ms Atkins, would you say your constituents in Kidsgrove regard the avoiding of splitting Kidsgrove between parliamentary constituencies as being of paramount importance? MS ATKINS: Yes, I would. MR THOMAS: If a way could be found of combining Kidsgrove with Stoke-on-Trent in a way which made the numbers right but would not split Kidsgrove, would you regard that as something the Commission should look at very carefully? MS ATKINS: No, I would not because having consulted with constituents in Kidsgrove I think they feel that they want to stay with the Moorlands as they were back in the days of Harold Davies when the whole town of Kidsgrove was included in that constituency. They appreciate, also, very much having a constituency office actually in Kidsgrove. REVD HUMPHREYS: Thank you for a second opportunity. Ms Atkins, you have emphasised the links between Werrington and the city, can I ask you which parts of the city you feel or believe Werrington have? MS ATKINS: I was talking about transport links with the city and that was in response to many letters which put forward the idea of Werrington being linked with Stoke-on-Trent City Council. REVD HUMPHREYS: You have not answered the question. I asked which parts of the city. MS ATKINS: I said transport into the city, any part of the city. Its links with Stoke North as proposed by the Boundary Commission are through the semi-rural parts of Stoke North which are Stanley, Bagnall, Endon and Brown Edge. Those are the links rather than the community links with the city itself. REVD HUMPHREYS: You emphasised the links between Kidsgrove and the Moorlands, they seem to be on historical grounds rather than current grounds. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Could you repeat that, please? REVD HUMPHREYS: I simply remarked that Ms Atkins emphasised the links between Kidsgrove and the Moorlands on historical grounds, talking about the days of Harold Davies. I asked her how strong she thinks the links are on geographical grounds between Kidsgrove and Leek today? MS ATKINS: I think historical links are important in communities in North Staffordshire but there are strong links, also, between Kidsgrove not so much with Leek but with Biddulph which is part of Staffordshire Moorlands. They both have very strong mining communities. One issue which has been strong and is a very big issue between Biddulph and Kidsgrove is the issue of the Schindler defective housing which was built by the Coal Board with defective concrete. That indicates that those houses were built both in Biddulph and Kidsgrove and this is a reflection of the historic mining links between those two communities. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions?


MR PRATT: Sir, can I just have one further? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: then you can follow him. I think there is a gentleman down here first and

MR RAISTRICK: Ms Atkins, can I ask you what you cite in support as the links apart from the odd few people going to work between Werrington and Stoke-on-Trent North constituency? MS ATKINS: As I explained earlier, certainly there are links with the city. The links with Stoke-on-Trent are built via Stanley, Bucknall, Endon and Brown Edge. We all know what the geography is and those are the links in terms of community. I do not think that working in the city, using leisure and other amenities in the city should be totally ignored because, as I say, many of those letters which were sent to the Boundary Commission talked about the city as if it was totally alien to the people of Werrington. I think it is very clear that the city facilities are used by the people of Werrington and although the links with Stoke North may not be strong certainly the West Moorlands part of Stoke-on-Trent certainly does have an affinity with Werrington. MR PRATT: Very briefly to follow up the question on bus links. Am I right in saying the bus links between Werrington and Stoke-on-Trent are actually through Hanley within Stoke-onTrent Central constituency and there are no direct links to the wards within Stoke-on-Trent North constituency, within Stoke-on-Trent the links are with Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency? MS ATKINS: Certainly we are having big battles at the moment over the buses as many colleagues here will know. Certainly changes of buses are necessary for many journeys. You are right, yes, of course they go into Hanley but the point is the link with Stoke North is with the rural or semi-rural parts of Stoke North. The point I was making in terms of the bus links, the travel links, are about travel to work, travel to leisure and travel to amenities. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Yes. Right. Thank you very much indeed. That has been a long session. What I am going to do, there is going to be some more evidence back around Werrington fairly shortly but, in deference to other Members of Parliament who are waiting, I will take Janet Dean, the Member of Parliament for Burton on Trent. MRS DEAN (Member of Parliament for Burton Upon Trent): I am Janet Dean and I am the Member of Parliament for Burton Upon Trent. First of all, may I commend the Boundary Commission for producing draft proposals which minimise the disruption to parliamentary constituencies in Staffordshire and Stoke-onTrent, whilst at the same time attempting to reduce the disparities in the number of electors per constituency. I wish to concentrate my remarks on the proposal for the Burton constituency which I have had the honour to represent since 1997 and in which I have lived since 1968. For many years the Burton constituency was in the unusual position of maintaining static boundaries. Indeed, I understand that when local government was reorganised in 1973 the East


Staffordshire Borough Council was formed so that it was coterrninous with the Burton constituency. It would have been somewhat simpler if that situation could have continued, but in the last parliamentary boundary review it was recognised that the population of the Burton constituency was too large and the wards of Yoxall and Bagots were moved from the Burton constituency to the Lichfield constituency. The Burton constituency is now more than 5,000 electors over the electoral quota and nearly 17,000 above the seat with the least electors in Staffordshire. It is only fair to those I represent that there should be a fairer distribution of seats within Staffordshire and Stoke-onTrent in looking at the Burton constituency as I said in my brief submission to the current review: "The only ward to relinquish, which would give sufficient electors to bring the constituency in line with the rest of Staffordshire, is the Needwood Ward". Whilst I can well understand that there will be many people in Barton-under-Needwood and other parts of the Needwood ward who will be unhappy with the proposal, I can see no alternative. I believe it is also important to recognise that many people in the Needwood ward hare close links with Yoxall, which moved into the Lichfield constituency last time, and also with neighbouring Alrewas, which has never been in the Burton constituency. It is inevitable that, with the growth of population in the Burton constituency, a further adjustment to the boundary has to be made and the logical extension of the decision at the last review, to remove Yoxall and Bagots wards, is for Needwood ward to join them in the Lichfield constituency. Indeed it is impossible to see an alternative since East Staffordshire and the Burton constituency border the County of Derbyshire. I have made many, many friends in the Needwood area throughout the last few years, not all of them Labour supporters, it is, therefore with some sadness that I give my support to the Boundary Commission's proposals. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Any questions? MR PRATT: I think you probably acknowledge this but just so we can get it on the record, you do understand the views of the many letters and the extra representations and also the views taken of the parish council, you understand those views that they do have local ties with Burton? MRS DEAN: Yes, I know that the representations have been made to the Commission and I do understand those links with Burton-on-Trent. MR PRATT: In terms of the size, is it right that at the last review it was proposed that Needwood should be removed from the Burton constituency? MRS DEAN: I understand that to be the case but I was not involved at that time. However, I would say that we need to look at it as it is now, and also clearly at the Burton constituency being so much larger than the others, and if we want to have some equalisation of the number of electors in the constituencies in Staffordshire then it is necessary to reconsider that ward proposal. MR PRATT: You accept that following the inquiry last time Needwood remained within the Burton constituency and the actual position of that was that Burton was then considerably over


the quota as of that time as well, so there was a precedent in the past for Needwood being included with Burton being over the electoral quota. MRS DEAN: Because it was left in last time and Burton constituency was left so much over quota does not mean that should continue. I think 5,000 more than the average is not correct and that should be addressed. MR PRATT: No further questions. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions for Mrs Dean? MRS PUNYER: I was the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Burton at the last General Election. Mrs Dean, good to see you again. In discussions and considerations of this kind the sense of place is an issue upon which great importance is laid. I am sure that I do not have to tell you about the strong sense of place that exists in the Needwood ward and that sense of place is very strongly linked to Burton, that goes back many hundreds of years through the brewing industry. Do you not believe that it is wrong to disrupt that sense of place and those strong connections just to satisfy a numbers argument? MRS DEAN: Thank you, Mrs Punyer. Yes, it is good to see you again as well. I believe that it is important that we do address the numbers argument, as you put it. As I have already said, I know there are people in Barton-under-Needwood who regret the change. I would further emphasise that Barton-under-Needwood has always had strong links with Yoxall which left the Burton constituency last time. I might say, sir, that area also has strong links not only with Alrewas in the Lichfield constituency but also with King's Bromley just across the border as well. Whilst I accept its links with Burton and I regret that it is necessary to reconsider it, I do believe the issue of numbers is important and I think it is the only ward in the Burton constituency which could be removed which would give that fairness to those who remain in the Burton constituency. MRS PUNYER: I think anyone who lives in a village would accept that villages tend to relate one to another, but in truth villages link most closely to their neighbouring town and Needwood and Tatenhill, and from Tatenhill you can virtually spit into Burton - it would be quite an achievement to do that into Lichfield - surely that has to be a much stronger link than an intervillage network? MRS DEAN: In the end with any boundary proposal, as I say it would be nice to have got East Staffordshire and Burton constituency coterminous last time but we are looking at numbers and it is a logical extension of what happened the last time at the boundary review for the Needwood ward to go into the Lichfield constituency. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Any other questions? (No response) Thank you very much. I call upon Brian Jenkins, the Member of Parliament for Tamworth. MR JENKINS (Member of Parliament for Tamworth): Thank you, Mr Dalziel. Having reflected long and hard on your proposals for the boundaries of the constituencies of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, I feel compelled to support the modest alterations to your original proposals made by Staffordshire County Council with regard to the Tamworth County constituency.


As any sitting politician will tell you it is not a good idea to be seen trying to get rid of a part of your constituency and will recall stories of how many personal friends they have made in the area they are about to lose. In reality we can all continue visiting our personal friends in any constituency. In any situation where lines are drawn on a map there are going to be people on either side who feel the line is in the wrong place, so no line is going to be right for everyone. In fact, sir, you can join very shortly the small band of us who can never get anything right and we are condemned all the time by members of the public because this time we did not agree with what their view was. The case we are putting forward to move thee wards, Little Aston, Shenstone and Stonnall, out of the Tamworth constituency into Lichfield is overwhelming, both sociologically and geographically, as they have extremely strong links with the City of Lichfield. They are part of the Lichfield district. They send their children to Lichfield for their secondary education, some even for their primary education. They, along with Hammerwich, make up the county council seat called Lichfield South. Therefore, they are already a part of a demographic entity in the eyes of the county council and the electorate. All public transport going from these wards goes between Lichfield and the West Midlands. In fact, there is no direct public transport link between this area and the town of Tamworth or the community there. With the removal of these three wards the constituency we recognise will be slightly below the county's average in the number of electors, so to compensate the suggestion of moving Whittington out of Lichfield and back into Tamworth, where it was when we were formerly known as South East Staffordshire, must be considered. First I would like to answer a few of the comments that were brought up in some of the letters you received from the residents in that area. Let me assure you no-one's children will be forced to move school from Lichfield to Tamworth, they will continue in their existing schools. People from the new area will not be forced to shop or socialise in Tamworth. The sun will still rise over Tamworth and set over Lichfield if this decision is made. People from the Tamworth constituency already shop in Tamworth, Burton, Lichfield, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall or wherever and will continue to do so. Whittington is served by a bus service that runs between Tamworth and Lichfield and it would be nonsense to suggest that people do not want to use the large stores or supermarkets in Tamworth. People from Lichfield come to Tamworth to shop, for entertainment or work, and long may they do so in our highly mobile society. The barracks at Whittington is now an Army Training Regiment and they say at night at the gates all the older married men turn to the right and go to Lichfield, and all the young single men turn left and go into Tamworth. There is no reason why Whittington should feel an exclusive loyalty to either Lichfield or Tamworth towns, it can enjoy using both as and when it requires. The main and possibly overwhelming reason to put Whittington into the Tamworth constituency is because it is already within a geographic block for democratic purposes. It is part of the Lichfield Rural East County Council seat. It has close affinity with the surrounding


villages that together make up this seat, it naturally fits together as a unit and it would be wrong to keep them apart. In fact, as you know, we have had a recent local by-election to elect a county councillor and the newly elected county councillor is hard working, conscientious and I feel will make an excellent county councillor. I feel that he would want to be encompassed totally within one constituency and would see no reason why the different parts should be split away that encompass the five excellent existing councillors for Tamworth and six county councillors in a constituency. How did this situation come about? At the last commission we had the prospect of moving but I feel such an end was probably made in error because we have the chance to put this right. The last Commission resulted in an outcome of Tamworth with an electorate of 67,205, the Lichfield electorate 62,720, giving a difference between the two of 5,385. If they had left it, as they are now suggesting, with little Aston, Shenstone and Stonnall and left Whittington in we would have an electorate for Tamworth of 63,313, Lichfield with 66,612, a difference of 3,299. By 2001 the Tamworth electorate would have been 65,704, Lichfield 67,686, a difference now of only 1,892. Indeed, from 1995 the growth within the two constituencies has been until 2001 in Tamworth an electorate growth of 3,211, a growth of 4.8 per cent, whereas Lichfield's growth is 1,549, a growth of 2.44 per cent, it was growing at half the rate. Tamworth has a skewed population, it is a young town, a young population. In fact, the percentage of pensioners in Tamworth is 19.4 per cent whereas in Lichfield it is 22.9. This larger population age will result in the age of majority within the next ten years attained by a larger percentage of the Tamworth population and so will rise rapidly to the average for the county constituencies. To reinforce this claim, I want just to submit three maps which show quite clearly how it looks. One of the things which I have always said, and it is very, very difficult with the shorthand writers, if you look at the existing Tamworth constituency, I almost think it looks like a little West Highland Terrier in outline, and is very much like a West Highland Terrier. It is ferocious, deeply loyal and respects, I think, its heritage. The new proposed constituency gives the centre a purpose and is easily defined and it takes in quite simply the Lichfield Rural East and the borough of Tamworth. With these two areas it will give an electorate of 65,823, comprising of 10,010 for Lichfield Rural East and 55,813 for Tamworth Borough. So although I will miss serving the wards of Little Aston, Shenstone and Stonnall, I believe it will be in the long term interests of these villages to be in the Lichfield constituency. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Mr Jenkins. Questions, do you have any Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: I have a number, sir. Am I right in saying, Mr Jenkins, that under the Boundary Commission proposals not one elector moves from the current Tamworth constituency, in other words there is no change to your current constituency with any electors? MR JENKINS: That is correct.


MR PRATT: Is this not actually the minimum disruption that other of your colleagues in parts of the north have talked about? MR JENKINS: Of course it is the minimum disruption. It is a system which I feel would stop people achieving what they wish in my part of the county. MR PRATT: In terms of the growth that you are suggesting - all figures are based on the growth since the enumeration date - I wonder if you are aware whether Lichfield or Tamworth has grown the fastest since the enumeration date? MR JENKINS: Tamworth has grown faster historically in the last 25 years. It is quite rural in some parts of the constituency and it will continue as a town to grow. All proposals that are envisaged for the development of Tamworth, some of them are over the boundary in Lichfield district administration area, some are in North Warwickshire which is not in the constituency. MR PRATT: Since the enumeration date I wonder if you can tell me how fast Tamworth and Lichfield have grown respectively? From 2000 to 2002 what has been the relative growth in electorate? MR JENKINS: I have got the figures somewhere I know. It is about parallel. MR PRATT: Would it surprise you to know that actually Lichfield has grown by 1.5 per cent whereas Tamworth has actually only grown by less than one per cent? MR JENKINS: No, in the short term and now with the new estate being built and developed in the Lichfield area it is possible. I tend to look over the longer term to see where the trend is. If you look back over the last five years there is an even trend. MR PRATT: If we look at some things you have said about the three wards that you would like to move out of your constituency into Lichfield. You have said they are part of the Lichfield borough, their schooling is with Lichfield and so on, exactly the same can be said of Whittington, can it not? MR JENKINS: No. It is quite interesting. You have to come from here to understand what it feels like. The areas of Little Aston, Shenstone and Stonnall are rather unique in so far as they border on the West Midlands. A lot of people work in the West Midlands and the only time they see Staffordshire is through the education and Lichfield district administration. They are centred totally on Lichfield. There is no link at all with the eastern side in Tamworth. There is no public transport, there are no direct links and there is no need for them to go there. Whittington, on the other hand, is on the boundary of Tamworth, it is between Tamworth and Lichfield. It has a regular bus service and people would naturally come to shop and use the shops in Tamworth and the entertainment in Tamworth. Although I would never pretend, believe me, that any village in my constituency on the periphery of a large town was part of that town, I know the reaction they make, they are quite proud of being villages. I am saying if you had to draw a line anywhere this would be the least most difficult option, shall I say.


MR PRATT: That is because, is it not, the ties of Little Aston are much closer with Sutton Coldfield than they are with anywhere else? MR JENKINS: Yes. MR PRATT: And the ties of Stonnall are much closer with Aldridge and Brownhills than they are with anywhere else? MR JENKINS: Yes. MR PRATT: In respect of Shenstone that is not as close to Lichfield as Whittington, is it? MR JENKINS: With Shenstone, yes, it is close and it is certainly directed to Lichfield. If you look at the other areas, there are many parts of the county, remember, which have different affinities, whether it be Derbyshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, but we are only looking at a county area and people do find it strange when they enter the point in Staffordshire, when they enter Roman Road that they are actually in my constituency. They cannot believe they are not in Sutton Coldfield West Midlands but that is the way that it breaks down. We have to deal with what we have got rather than what we would like and we have to look at the reality of the situation. MR PRATT: Whittington is the closest of the four wards to Lichfield and much closer to Lichfield than it is to Tamworth, is it not? MR JENKINS: It is closer to Lichfield physically, geographically it is almost attached. As I say, all these areas surround it. If you would like to look at the seat of Lichfield Rural East and that is why it is called Lichfield Rural East - it is on the east of the city itself and it surrounds the city itself. There is no reason why this part should be any different from the rest of the seat. MR PRATT: You mentioned that Whittington was part of South East Staffordshire constituency prior to the boundary changes in 1997. Would you confirm that Little Aston, Shenstone and Stonnall were also part of South East Staffordshire in that review? MR JENKINS: Yes, and Alrewas and Fradley. We made adjustments then and we are continuing to make adjustments. I am saying the most logical way, if you like, to ensure we do not have another problem in eight years time is to take the step now to adjust the numbers now, the electorate now, in other words looking at it logically these are the three wards that have closest affinity with Lichfield and Whittington has the least. MR PRATT: The three wards that you are proposing to move to Tamworth constituency have been included in a constituency including Tamworth at least since the war? MR JENKINS: Now, since the war I think you will find most of Tamworth was in Meridene we then put it in Lichfield and Tamworth. We did not have an entity as far as taking the majority of the area that is now Tamworth into Staffordshire until 1965. It did not go into the parliamentary seat until 1969. We have had quite a few changes in that area and it will continue to change. All we need to do is to try and get the best fit at any point in time.


MR PRATT: In recent history they have all been included. There has never been a time when Whittington has been included with Tamworth and not these three wards, has there? MR JENKINS: They are all in South East Staffordshire, correct, and then Whittington moved out. I am suggesting that it was the wrong one to move out. It would have been easier and in the long run better to move out the three I have mentioned to give us more stability. MR PRATT: Now if we just come to the quota. There has been a lot of talk about getting as near as possible to the quota. Your unchanged constituency could hardly be nearer the quota, could it? MR JENKINS: That is true. MR PRATT: It is only 444 below the quota. MR JENKINS: Yes. MR PRATT: How much below the quota is your proposed constituency then? MR JENKINS: I think it is 65,800. MR PRATT: Yes. I may be wrong, I may have done the arithmetic wrongly, I have not been able to check it. I think it is actually 65,323, not 65,823, your proposed Tamworth constituency, that is 4,111 below the proposed constituency, is it not? MR JENKINS: Yes. That is today but by the time we come to this boundary change it will be closer to the average. MR PRATT: In terms of the Boundary Commission, the Boundary Commission have to take figures as of 2000 in terms of what they do, do they not? MR JENKINS: Yes, but I am asking the Boundary Commission to also take into account historically what has developed in this area. We need to make a decision which holds us in good stead for this boundary review as well as the future. If we do not we will be placed in a situation where we will have to make another adjustment in ten years' time. MR PRATT: That is a matter for the Boundary Commission. The one thing they can take into account, is it not true, in addition to the 2000 electorate, is actually what has happened since the enumeration date in terms of actual growth since the enumeration date? MR JENKINS: Yes. MR PRATT: Finally, you did make mention of the letters. I do not know whether you have been able to see all the extra letters which have come in in the last few days? I have only managed to glance at them but I think there are about 70 letters or so from people in Whittington who are very, very upset about the proposal to move them out of Lichfield. Do you accept that is the case?


MR JENKINS: I will accept that any village, no matter how small that village, in a periphery of a town or a city, if there is any mention or indication it is going to be taken over, people will start this very easily. I am very, very surprised and delighted at the homogeneity of the people in Whittington. I noticed in the letters how often they use the same phrase, the same construction of words. It surprised me just how often they managed to achieve this. MR PRATT: Would it not be more sensible, to take a phrase from one of those letters, where it says "if it ain't broke don't fix it"? Is that not actually what the Boundary Commission should do where possible, go for minimum disruption? You do not have any disruption in your constituency, do you? MR JENKINS: I would like to offer you a better phrase. Let us make sure it does not break down, let us maintain it. MR PRATT: No further questions. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Right. Any other questions for Mr Jenkins? CLLR EDGINTON (Lichfield Rural East County Councillor): I would like to ask Brian whether he agrees with the view that of all the larger villages around Lichfield, Whittington of all those villages has the strongest affinity with Lichfield and that the people of Whittington in general object really quite strongly to being moved from Lichfield constituency to Tamworth constituency? MR JENKINS: Yes. I know this is the case of a village and there is very deep loyalty within the village but I would get the same loyalty and the same attention from Shenstone, Stonnall and Little Aston, exactly the same depth of feeling. Whilst I had the chance to read one or two letters I did notice that in some cases they were objecting to the fact that the MP when they were in Tamworth was not doing the job, they felt on the periphery, they did not feel included, although the Member of Parliament, my predecessor, the district councillor, the county councillor and the Member of Parliament lived in the Whittington ward. CLLR EDGINTON: I do not want to come back on that because I am asking questions and I will have my chance to say my own piece tomorrow. The second question is to do with the arithmetic. I believe the original figures that Brian presented in his speech ignored the removal of the Barton-under-Needwood area from Burton into Lichfield. Should the county council's amendment go further the result would be an extremely large Lichfield constituency, is that not the case? MR JENKINS: It will be a large Lichfield constituency but I do not think extremely large. I think the grounds they laid down are acceptable. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Yes. Thank you very much. MRS PUNYER: Would you not agree that physical barriers are perhaps the greatest obstacle to forming links between communities? MR JENKINS: They are one of them, yes. If you go up the M42 for a long stretch you know it.


MRS PUNYER: Would you not suggest, therefore, that Birmingham Rural Relief Road, which is currently cutting a swathe between Lichfield and Shenstone, is actually going to make a very substantial physical barrier to the people of Shenstone getting into Lichfield? MR JENKINS: I have just sat in a rather long traffic jam trying to get to the A5 this morning, I know exactly how bad it is. If you are talking about a physical barrier rather than a natural barrier I would like you to look at the A38 which comes down almost in line on the suggested route I am taking. It comes down and it does raise that same problem. MRS PUNYER: At least you can walk across the footbridge from Whittington to Lichfield, which you cannot do from Shenstone. MR JENKINS: I think you will find when the roadworks have finished that you can walk up to Shenstone but it will be a bit longer. MR FRYER: James Fryer, a resident of Shenstone since 1974. In reply to the last remark of the lady there, I actually attend a health centre which is the other side of the junction you have tried to mention as a barrier and I go there two or three times a week. Even in the construction phase that is not a barrier, that is a red herring, I am afraid. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: We are actually directing questions to Mr Jenkins but you have made your point for what it is worth. Any other questions for Mr Jenkins? (No response) I did not ask you, I beg your pardon, Mr Martin. Do you have any questions? MR MARTIN: No, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Our last Member of Parliament for today is Mr David Kidney, Member of Parliament for Stafford. MR KIDNEY (Member of Parliament for Stafford): My name is David Kidney, I am the Member of Parliament for the Stafford constituency. I was elected to Parliament to represent the Stafford constituency in 1997. At that election, the boundaries of the constituency were very different from the boundaries at the previous election. This was because the last review of boundaries in Staffordshire by the Boundary Commission resulted in an increase in the number of constituencies from 11 to 12. This change inevitably caused widespread changes to boundaries of constituencies in Staffordshire, including Stafford. On the occasion of the current review of boundaries in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the Boundary Commission has concluded that there should continue to be 12 constituencies. I support this conclusion. The result of this decision is that the changes to be made on this occasion as a result of the review are much more modest. In the Stafford constituency, changes are called for as a consequence of the recent Periodic Review by the Local Government Commission. Since local government wards are the building blocks for constituencies, there will be some changes to the boundaries of Stafford constituency caused by ward changes. So, for example, the new Stafford borough ward of Haywood and Hixon combines The Haywards (currently in Stafford constituency) with Hixon (currently in Stone constituency).


Other than these changes forced by ward revisions, the provisional recommendations make no further changes to the boundaries of Stafford constituency. The result is a constituency with an electorate of 69,274 as against the 2000 electoral quota of 69,934. There is merit in Labour's proposal for a further alteration to the boundaries of Stafford constituency. The proposal to transfer the new Huntington and Hatherton ward from Cannock Chase to Stafford (instead of the provisional recommendation to transfer this ward to South Staffordshire) is justified. There are employment, shopping and bus links between Huntington and Penkridge, which is within Stafford constituency. There are also employment, shopping, bus and hospital links between Huntington and Stafford. The proposal also improves the shape of Stafford constituency, given that if this new ward is gained an outer part of the constituency has to be transferred to another constituency. The obvious outer parts of the constituency that would have to be lost if the Huntington and Hatherton ward is included would be Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley ward and Seighford ward. In each case, these rural wards border rural parts of neighbouring constituencies. On a personal note, I would say that I have worked hard to forge my own links as a Member of Parliament with all parts of the present constituency. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Any questions? MR PRATT: Thank you very much. Mr Kidney, the Boundary Commission's proposals for a constituency of 69,274 is very close to the electoral quota, is it not? MR KIDNEY: It is and under the Labour proposals the only circumstances would be a move of Huntington and Hatherton from Cannock Chase and it goes to Stafford. MR PRATT: You are suggesting moving Seighford as well, are you not? MR KIDNEY: I think we are talking about an improved shape of the constituency. As it happens Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley ward is almost the same size in elector numbers as the Huntington and Hatherton ward. MR PRATT: Can I get this clear. I accept that Huntington and Hatherton are almost equal in terms of size but if you take Seighford out then you reduce the electorate still further. Are you actually not suggesting that you take Seighford out? MR KIDNEY: I am here supporting the Labour proposals to include Seighford. MR PRATT: So you would, in fact, have a Stafford county constituency, the Labour Party, considerably further away from the quota than the Boundary Commission's proposal? MR KIDNEY: Both of the wards would reduce the number further away from the quota.


MR PRATT: If we just come to Seighford first of all and then if I can look at the other areas. I wonder if you could tell me what percentage of the Seighford ward you currently represent? MR KIDNEY: I have to confess that I have not studied the Periodic Review to see how much of the constituency moves from Stoke to Stafford under the provisional recommendations. I think you have got a better handle on the percentage than I would have. MR PRATT: If you would accept from me that you represent currently in terms of the electorate 86 per cent of that ward. MR KIDNEY: Absolutely. MR PRATT: Do you not also accept that the communities in that ward have close links, close ties, with Stafford? MR KIDNEY: I would not disagree with that at all. They do have close links with other places around as well but they do have links with Stafford, yes. MR PRATT: If we can come on to Bishopswood, Wheaton Aston and Lapley, I wonder if you could tell me how many of the electors of that ward you currently represent? MR KIDNEY: I am not aware there has been any change at all. MR PRATT: So you represent all of that ward. In terms of Huntington and Hatherton, how many of the electors in the Huntington and Hatherton ward do you currently represent? MR KIDNEY: I am sure you know the answer. It is none. MR PRATT: Thank you very much. So, in fact, a swap of Huntington and Hatherton for Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley is actually not minimum disruption, it is quite a considerable disruption because you are disrupting everybody as opposed to just disrupting the people in Huntington under the Boundary Commission's proposals? MR KIDNEY: It is true that Wheaton Aston, Lapley and Bishopswood does not have to be disturbed if the provisional recommendations are confirmed. Huntington and Hatherton does have to find a new home. MR PRATT: Just to take that point, Hatherton does not, does it? MR KIDNEY: It is true that a small part of Hatherton is in South Staffordshire, that is correct. MR PRATT: In terms of Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley, do you accept that they have strong links with Penkridge? MR KIDNEY: They have good links with Penkridge, I accept that. MR PRATT: In terms of the number of things you said about Huntington they would be equally true of Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley.


MR KIDNEY: That is probably right, they are both areas that look to Penkridge and to Wolverhampton as well. MR PRATT: In terms of making a difference, do you accept that secondary school pupils in Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley would normally attend a school in Penkridge, whereas Huntington pupils would normally attend a school in Cannock? MR KIDNEY: Yes. In terms of Huntington I mentioned earlier that it looks to Cannock because it is on the edge of Cannock. Huntington school children would go to Cannock and that would not change no matter how the boundaries change. MR PRATT: I have no further questions for Mr Kidney. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you. Mr Martin, do you have any questions? MR MARTIN: No, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Does anyone else have any questions? MR THOMAS: I live in Stafford. Mr Kidney, I have got a lot of questions I could ask you but I will try to keep to a few. Could you tell the Assistant Commissioner what Prime Point 14 is and where that is in your constituency? MR KIDNEY: Prime Point 14 is an industrial site on the edge of junction 14 on the M6 motorway. In terms of local government wards it is in Seighford ward just on the north edge of Stafford town. MR THOMAS: There has recently been a controversial planning application which I do not want to go into the ins and outs of on this occasion but there have been planning applications that would create a lot of jobs on that site and I think Prime Point 14 is considered to be a very important employment site for Stafford town. MR KIDNEY: I am bemused by the line of questioning because it is an employment site and it is so designated. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: So am I but let us carry on. MR THOMAS: Can you explain to me do you think it makes sense to transfer that employment site which is on the edge of Stafford town and which will employ people in Stafford town to the parliamentary constituency of Stoke? MR KIDNEY: I think we are going down a road we have been down several times today that places do not move because their parliamentary boundaries change. The location is going to be at junction 14 of the motorway just to the north of Stafford town whichever parliamentary constituency this site sits in. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions?


MR THOMAS: Just one more. You are on record in all the local newspapers as being dismayed at that particular decision. You think it is a very important planning application for your constituency and yet your party is proposing to transfer it to another constituency. Why does that make sense? MR KIDNEY: Again, I am at a loss to understand this. The local government planning authority is Stafford Borough Council and still will be whatever its parliamentary boundaries will be. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions for this witness? CLLR COX: My name is Brian Cox, I am one of two district councillors for the Wheaton Aston, Lapley and Bishopswood ward. Mr Kidney, can you describe, please, the links between Huntington and Stafford that you claim are there at the moment? MR KIDNEY: Yes, I have given them in my earlier statements. There are some employment links between Huntington and Penkridge, some employment links with Stafford, some shopping links between Huntington and Penkridge and Huntington to Stafford. There are bus services both ways. There are two hospitals at Stafford that Huntington residents go to. CLLR COX: Is it not the case though that particularly since the demise of the Midland Red Bus Company that the bus links in that direction have almost disappeared? MR KIDNEY: My, you are behind the times because it is Arriva North Midlands now. It has been very important during my time as a Member of Parliament to make sure that the links between Huntington and Penkridge are not downgraded and certainly the links between Cannock and Stafford are robust. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are there any other questions? (No response) Thank you very much, sir. That concludes our evidence today from Members of Parliament. I see the time and I have got one gentleman I am going to interpose and I am anxious also, Mr Martin, to call Mrs Finn. MR MARTIN: Yes, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Firstly I am going to call first - because he has to leave by one o'clock - Mr Roy Lear who is a member of the parish council. MR JEBB: Can I say Mr Lear has had to leave because unfortunately he had an engagement. He did wish to say one thing though if I could do it for him. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Can you say who you are? MR JEBB: My name is Henry Jebb. I am also an Endon parish councillor. The point he wished to make was that the existing MPs are sometimes very unclear about what their boundaries are. There was one instance where there was a competition organised in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency to go down to London. One of the youngsters in Endon applied to enter


for it and he was awarded the prize even though he was not part of that constituency. It was not realised by the current MP, Ms Atkins, until a little while later that was the case. Fortunately he was allowed to go down to see the Prime Minister by his real MP who is Ms Walley. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Right. We will move on and call Mrs Jocelyn Finn. CLLR FINN: Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr Dalziel. My name is Jocelyn Finn and I live at 2 Caroline Close, Werrington ST9 QLU, and I live in what will be part of the new Werrington ward from May next year. I am a district councillor for the present Werrington ward, and have been for nearly ten years, and I am a member of Werrington Parish Council, and I have been for the past eight. I am familiar with the concerns which many people have raised in the village since the Boundary Commission published its draft proposals. In conversation I have attempted to allay their fears about the points and objectives of the parliamentary boundary review; about what it can and cannot do. The suggestion that this process involves changes to local authority boundaries and that Werrington is being swallowed up by Stoke-on-Trent is a local misconception I have had to deal with regularly. I have lived in Werrington for 27 years. I have met and got to know many if not most of its inhabitants. I understand how the community works and operates. When I read that the Boundary Commission was proposing to remove the new Werrington ward from the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency and add it to those Moorlands wards in the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency, I admit, I was very disappointed. I know and have made friends with many people in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency, and I enjoy working with them as a councillor and as a political activist in this constituency. I realised two years ago the apparent oddity of Werrington having ward boundaries running up hills and down dales when the local government boundary proposals were accepted, proposals which split the village in two. I realised that making this same boundary the parliamentary boundary would only underline the problem. But when I thought about it and looked at the numbers, I wondered what is the alternative? The Boundary Commission has a legal duty to ensure that everybody's vote is roughly equal between constituencies. They have looked at the present arrangements and have attempted to equalise the electorates with minimum disruption across North Staffordshire. So finding a new ward of 2,800 voters in Werrington, adjacent to the city boundary and available to be moved, it makes sense to add it on. It is not as if the people of Werrington have nothing in common with Stoke-on-Trent. I am a nurse. I work at City General Hospital, which is one of the two big hospitals in the area. I shop in the city. I go for meals in the city. I use many of their services, far more than in Leek, say, which is a town I frequently visit. Many other Moorlands wards are not in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. They are represented by Bill Cash and by Joan Walley. Being a part of their constituency is quite painless, I am sure, and I am sure the constituents receive good service from both MPs and if the voters there feel they do not, they can vote against them, after all that is democracy.


I think the Commission has done the best job possible in a difficult situation. When they publish their final proposals, I think everything will settle down and the people of Werrington will be able to get on with their lives and the issue of which parliamentary constituency they are a member of not be of such great significance. Thank you for allowing me to speak. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Madam. Any questions? MR PRATT: Thank you very much indeed. You admit you were very disappointed when the proposals came out. As a councillor for the ward you acknowledge that there is a tremendous strength of feeling, as we have seen today, in the ward about moving into the parliamentary constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North? CLLR FINN: I would acknowledge that is the case but I would say, also, that some of that disappointment I think has been based on misconceptions of exactly what this is all about. MR PRATT: But there is a very strong feeling? CLLR FINN: There is a very strong feeling, yes. MR PRATT: You have mentioned that Werrington is adjacent to the city boundary, that is the city boundary of Stoke-on-Trent Central, is it not? CLLR FINN: It is one of these things, it depends which angle you are coming from. There is a boundary with Stanley and Bagnall at that side and there is a boundary with Stoke Central on that side. It is either side, it depends where you are looking at it. MR PRATT: The various things you have mentioned in terms of shopping and using services, that would be normally in Stoke-on-Trent Central, would it? CLLR FINN: It would indeed, yes. MR PRATT: I have no further questions. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: response) Thank you very much. Any other questions for Councillor Finn? (No

Well, now, on the list, Mr Martin, next is Mr John Ashley. He is Werrington, is he not? MR MARTIN: He is Werrington, yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: He is on my list also as wanting to speak early. Is he here? MR MARTIN: Yes, he is here, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Let us take him now.


CLLR ASHLEY (Werrington Parish Councillor): My name is John Ashley. I live at 152 Ash Bank Road, ST2 9DU. I live in what will become the new Werrington ward, from next year, in the Staffordshire Moorlands District. I am a member also of the Werrington Parish Council. When the Boundary Commission published their proposals in February to include the new Werrington ward with the constituency based on Stoke-on-Trent North, like other colleagues I was rather dismayed and had not expected it. However, this was as nothing compared to the concern I felt when I saw the campaign of misinformation being developed in and around Werrington over what was actually being proposed Before long letters were appearing in the local paper making all sorts of spurious allegations. Apparently, great calamities were about to befall the people living in Werrington: poorer council services, higher council tax, falling house prices, the loss of a village hall, etc, these are just a few of the claims which have been made. I have spent some months talking to residents and electorates and have tried to explain to them what the proposals mean. I accept that the Boundary Commission, in drawing up their proposals, have been faced with a difficult task. In my opinion they have achieved relative electoral equality between constituencies without a wholesale re-drawing of the boundaries. North Staffordshire went through major upheaval a few years ago and it was not pleasant. I hope we do not have to go through this again Linking Werrington with Stoke-on-Trent for parliamentary purposes is not such an outrageous idea. There are many links between the two for most Werrington residents. I live on Ash Bank Road. My wife and I do most of our main shopping in Stoke-onTrent. It is the most convenient place for us to visit. We do not just buy food there, we buy household commodities, white electrical goods, carpets, etc. We visit DIY stores. It takes about fifteen minutes to drive there and not much longer on the bus. I travel through Stoke-on-Trent every day and my wife works in Stoke-on-Trent. Indeed, most days of the year we visit Stoke-on-Trent on a regular basis. If we want to go to the cinema or to the theatre or any leisure activities, they are predominantly in Stoke-on-Trent. Ash Bank is built on a hill on the A52 which leads into Stoke-on-Trent. If I walk outside the front door and look westward what do I see? Stoke-on-Trent. It dominates the horizon. Many of my neighbours also visit Stoke-on-Trent for various reasons. Their children on a weekly or even on a daily basis visit Stoke-on-Trent for leisure activities: nightclubs, discos, etc.. All the traffic goes there. There used to be a saying "All roads lead to Rome". I think there is a case now of saying "most of our roads lead to Stoke-on-Trent". The links between Werrington and the city are not just strong, they are overwhelmingly strong. And I say this as someone who loves living in the Staffordshire Moorlands.


The people of Werrington have nothing to fear from these proposals. Our independence from the city of Stoke-on-Trent is secure. We may share an MP with a part of Stoke-on-Trent in the future, but our local authority, our services, our parish councillors, our district councillors and our county councillors will all be elected as members of Staffordshire Moorlands I think the Boundary Commission are to be commended for achieving what was seemingly the impossible. They have achieved electoral equality for voters in North Staffordshire with minimal alteration for the vast majority of its electorate. Thank you, Mr Dalziel. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. The builders have kindly suspended their operation to make life possible for us; but equally we have agreed that we will suspend our operations between one and two, and after five o'clock, so they can get on with their work. Rather than interrupt Mr Pratt's cross-examination now we will take it at two o'clock. We will adjourn now until two o'clock. CLLR ASHLEY: Excuse me, Mr Dalziel. I have to leave now and will not be available for cross-examination. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I am sorry. I beg your pardon. Mr Pratt, will you fire away now. MR PRATT: I will be very brief. I have a couple of points. You say you were rather dismayed and had not expected it. You accept, presumably, from today and so on there is strong feeling in Werrington against this proposal as your colleagues have done earlier? CLLR ASHLEY: There is always strong opposition to any change, but we are a culture of not accepting change. MR PRATT: You have mentioned on a number of occasions Hanley, and you have mentioned the bus services, Hanley and the bus service to Hanley. That is all in the Stoke-onTrent Central constituency. CLLR ASHLEY: I agree. MR PRATT: Most of the items you have mentioned in Stoke-on-Trent are in Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency? CLLR ASHLEY: I agree. I was trying to make the point that people identify with Stoke-onTrent whether it is Central or some other part, it is still to them Stoke-on-Trent. MR PRATT: Thank you very much. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: We will resume at two o'clock. Time noted: 12.58 pm


After a short adjournment

Time noted: 2.00 pm THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: It is two o'clock, ladies and gentlemen, we will move on. What I wish to do, Mr Martin, although we have had a lot of evidence about Werrington and its surroundings and Stoke North, there are some witnesses who have been waiting all morning and I would like to take their evidence because the Labour Party's evidence on Werrington is complete according to the list that I have. MR MARTIN: Yes, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I would like to take those witnesses, your other witnesses, several of whom may need to give evidence today and we may possibly conclude your evidence today. MR MARTIN: Yes, sir. I wonder whether at some stage you would allow me five minutes to perhaps set out the bulk of the Labour Party proposals. I know you already have the details. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I want to give you that opportunity. MR MARTIN: I am certainly content to hear those witnesses as you wish. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: At a rough guess, if we can get the other witnesses about Werrington now and perhaps conclude, depending how time goes, your other witnesses, and then I would like to hear from you. I am conscious of the fact that you have not had your opening and you are not going to be deprived of making a submission now or a submission later, do not worry, but it was important to accommodate the Members of Parliament. MR MARTIN: Of course, I appreciate that. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: What we will do is we will crash on with Mr Henry Jebb, please. MR JEBB: Thank you very much, Mr Dalziel. My name is Henry Jebb. I hope you have got a copy of my submission which we have had copied. I am representing the Moorlands branch of the Liberal Democrats which is the wards of Bagnall and Stanley, Brown Edge and Endon in the Staffordshire Moorlands district. I have stood twice as a parliamentary candidate for Stoke North and I have a wide knowledge of, and interest in, electoral boundaries in North Staffordshire through my political activity. I am also a parish councillor in Endon with Stanley Parish.


I believe that numbers are all-important and therefore I cannot support the Conservative alternative proposals which would result in one very small constituency in Stoke-on-Trent. That would lead to an inequality for the electorate in Staffordshire. The Moorlands Liberal Democrats support making the numbers as close as possible for each constituency. So today is about the communities that will be affected by necessary changes during this review. Greater damage will be caused to community interests by keeping Brown Edge, Endon, Bagnall, Stanley and Stockton Brook in Stoke-on-Trent North and moving Werrington there too than by merely dividing the Kidsgrove wards into two parliamentary constituencies. Community interests for the area that I represent are as follows: the perceived threat to community life from Stoke-on-Trent. For example, when Norton was taken into the city, having a vibrant parish council, all got subsumed and lost in the city. There was no respect for the existing community structures in that area. Stoke-on-Trent still shows no evidence of reducing its centralising tendencies. At the last Boundary Review, 1,500 postcards of objection were sent from the Brown Edge, Endon, Bagnall, Stanley areas protesting about the proposals to move these wards into Stoke-on-Trent North. The Green Belt is very much respected in the Moorlands as a barrier against encroachment by Stoke-on-Trent. It is widely believed publicly that Stoke wants more land to support its council tax base, pay its debts, and maybe even to avoid re-using brownfield sites within the city. There are strong and vibrant community festivals which residents fear would be threatened by their communities remaining in, or being taken into, Stoke-on-Trent: Endon Well Dressing, Brown Edge Carnival, the Village Queens, Stanley Village Society which organised the Jubilee celebrations and which has regular events and celebrations through the year. Bagnall too has its Village Queen and Carnival. All of these events rely on voluntary commitment from dedicated local people and support from Moorlands District and Staffordshire County Council officers in organising sweeping and grass-cutting schedules, to assist in the community's maximum enjoyment of these events. Brown Edge residents are very concerned about the threat from Stoke-on-Trent. The parish council has recently invested in boundary signs to show its independence from the city. Residents in the Moorlands have campaigned for many years to remove the name "Stokeon-Trent" as their post town, and to replace this with "Staffordshire Moorlands". The Moorlands Parish Assembly provides a forum for parish councils to network and support each other, and to share good practice. This community of interest would be threatened by the inclusion of yet another Moorlands ward within Stoke-on-Trent North. Kidsgrove wards can cope with having two MPs. They have a larger electorate than the Moorlands wards and strong links with Newcastle Borough Council. They do not need the


protection that smaller communities and parish councils in the Moorlands, like ours, are seeking by remaining under the banner of Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. It has been proposed that it would be wrong for residents to be placed within three different parliamentary constituencies in ten years. However, it is even more important to correct the mistakes made at the previous boundary review when Endon, Bagnall, Stanley, Stockton Brook and Brown Edge were moved into Stoke-on-Trent North and to acknowledge the strength of feeling of local residents on these issues. It has also been proposed to make changes appropriate to the names of the constituencies "to address people's sense of belonging". Surely it would be better to align the constituencies themselves more appropriately so that they reflect people's sense of belonging. The submission that we have made, to retain Werrington within Staffordshire Moorlands, and to return the wards of Brown Edge and Endon, Bagnall and Stanley to the Moorlands, would be further enhanced by also returning the wards of Alton and Churnet to Staffordshire Moorlands from Stone constituency. This would achieve even greater numerical consistency. That proposal has been aired in public through the district council's submission and if you would like a map to accompany that I have got a copy. Thank you very much. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are you involved in the counter-proposal for the Liberal Democrats that I have got here on the plan in my bundle? MR JEBB: We did submit a counter-proposal with the original representations to you and that is certainly what we stand by, although it could be enhanced in terms of evening out the numbers by the suggestion of adding Alton and Churnet to the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: That is a new thing, is it not? MR JEBB: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I am just trying to turn up, because you said what you want to happen in one respect but you have not spelt out any evidence today how you balance the numbers by doing what you do. I have now got your plan. Can you just briefly identify the wards which you would replace for the ones that go back to the Moorlands on your argument to bring up the numbers in Stoke North? MR JEBB: Indeed. The three wards that would revert to the Stoke North constituency are Butt Lane, Talke and Ravenscliffe. Kidsgrove and Newchapel would remain in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency and Bagnall, Stanley, Brown Edge and Endon and Werrington would either revert to or stay in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. On our original proposals that would yield a Staffordshire Moorlands constituency size of 61,782, Stoke North would be 65,099 and the Stone constituency would be 68,520. If, in addition to that, Alton and Churnet were moved out of Stone into the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency the numbers ---THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Just give me the numbers of those two because I have not had evidence on this proposal.


MR JEBB: Indeed. The Staffordshire Moorlands would then be ---THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: No, the numbers of the wards. The plans have identified the wards by numbers. MR JEBB: I beg your pardon. We are looking at number 16 and number one. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Yes, I see. Thank you very much. Any questions, Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: I have no questions, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin? MR MARTIN: Your main concern really is a form of creeping urbanisation, would that be fair? MR JEBB: No, it is not fair. The element that we are trying to address here is community links, community affinities. Frankly, I do not understand the Labour Party's position. If it is appropriate for Kidsgrove to have community links and community affinities, why is it not also appropriate for the communities in the Moorlands to have those links and affinities? MR MARTIN: Are you not concerned that the urban area of Stoke-on-Trent is going to creep out into the Staffordshire Moorlands three wards that are closest to you, or are you concerned about it? MR JEBB: Those are the fears of people who are going to be voting in subsequent elections. As is well known, this is not a local authority boundary review. It is the fears, the real fears, of people in the communities that are going to be affected that we are talking about today that the links they have with their neighbours ---MR MARTIN: You are not suggesting that an MP who represented the proposed areas, some urban, some rural, would give any less weight to the rural, if I can use that term, voters' desire to remain separate from the city? MR JEBB: No. MR MARTIN: The planning authority would remain the Moorlands Planning Authority? MR JEBB: Indeed. MR MARTIN: Really there has been no evidence, has there, that the festivals and the like that take place in the two wards that were transferred on the last occasion have diminished or community ties have diminished in those two wards as a result, is there? MR JEBB: There certainly is evidence that one of the communities I have mentioned has lost a lot of its local links and community life as a result of being part of the city. I am sorry, no, we are talking about Stoke North. No, as far as I am aware there is no evidence that there has been any loss of community life there.


MR MARTIN: In reality, the threat to the way of life of those parts of the Staffordshire Moorlands comes from possibly creeping urbanisation, people moving to that part of the world, more houses, not really from its parliamentary representation, would that not be unreasonable? MR JEBB: You are making my point for me. We are talking about people's links and affinities. If what you are saying is absolutely true then you cannot argue, as the Labour Party appears to be doing, that you must not split Kidsgrove. It can perfectly easily cope with a split, two MPs representing the Kidsgrove area as a whole. Indeed, from the evidence that some of your parliamentary colleagues have already given it seems to me that two MPs are better than one in many instances so perhaps Kidsgrove should be favoured with two MPs. MR MARTIN: In any event, in the five years that have taken place since the election, have you found that the MP has been able to represent your interests in those wards as well as the previous MP? MR JEBB: You are asking me to get into a political comment on the MP, which I will not do. MR MARTIN: Perhaps I will rephrase it. I will say no more than that. You accept from your submissions that numbers are an important element of the exercise? MR JEBB: As a democrat I believe that to be very strongly important. MR MARTIN: What percentage, do you think, of people that live in those three wards - if I can put it like that - look to the city for employment? MR JEBB: I do not have that figure to hand, I am afraid. MR MARTIN: Just from your own knowledge. Do you yourself? MR JEBB: I do not, I am self-employed. I do not work in the city. I would say probably 50 per cent, maybe 60 per cent, but I am not sure. That is a guess. MR MARTIN: Yes. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions? MS WALLEY: I was interested, Mr Jebb, in what you were saying about the way in which community events are likely to change as a result of the boundaries. Can you tell us how that works? How will it affect community involvement? It has been my experience, for example, with the festivals at Brown Edge, Bagnall, Endon and various other community festivals there has not been any lack of interest involved in that but that could change. Can you tell us how it has changed since 1997? MR JEBB: What I am talking about here is the public's perception of a change of this nature. It is depressing to the public if they are forced to do something they do not wish to do. This goes on to have its effect in future years. If you look at past history, as I understand it when Longton was tuned into the city it lost elements of its public life.


MS WALLEY: If I could just throw in a point of information. I am not talking about including an area in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, I am talking about the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council wards in the parliamentary constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I do not know whether that is a question, I do not think it is. It is clarifying what you are saying. Are there any other questions? CLLR AHMAD (Werrington Parish Council): I am Councillor Yvonne Ahmad from Werrington Parish Council. I would like to ask Mr Jebb how many representations from the areas that he has mentioned have been submitted to the Boundary Commission and then I would like him to tell us what the number of electorate is in those areas as well? MR JEBB: I do not have those figures in front of me at the moment. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions? (No response) Right. Thank you very much, sir. Now have we got Mrs Doris Palmer from Werrington Parish Council here? MRS PALMER (Vice Chairman, Werrington Parish Council): Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: what you have to say. Would you like to introduce yourself and tell me

MRS PALMER: I am Mrs Doris Palmer. I am the Vice Chairman of Werrington Parish Council. I live at 26 Moss Park Avenue, Werrington, Staffordshire, ST9 0LT. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Have you done a statement, Madam? MRS PALMER: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: A written one? MRS PALMER: It is a written one. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Has it been copied? MRS PALMER: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: got a spare copy? MRS PALMER: I have not. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I do not think I have got one and the shorthand writers have not got one either. Can we get it copied, please? MRS PALMER: Yes. The shorthand writers have not got it. Have you


THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: While that is being done, Mrs Palmer, I will move on. Is Mr Austin Hanchard, who might wish to comment regarding Werrington, here? (No response) He was here this morning but he may have left. I will cross him off. Is Mrs Hughes here? MRS HUGHES: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Have you got a statement? MRS HUGHES: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Have you provided copies? MRS HUGHES: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I think it might be convenient if we hear from you. Fire away. Identity first, please. MRS HUGHES: My name is Patricia Hughes and I am simply a Werrington resident. I live at 1 Newhouses, that is Kerry Hill, Eaves Lanes. I live on Kerry Hill which is adjacent to Wetley Moor Common and have been a resident of Werrington for 28 years. I am married to a fourth generation farmer and have two teenage daughters. I teach part-time at Werrington's high school. I was dismayed to learn of the proposed boundary changes for our area and bewildered to read those written representations from so many people who do not live or work in Werrington, where it is claimed becoming part of Stoke North will make little or no difference to us. My view, shared by my family, friends and neighbours, is that there is a sense of identity rooted in the Moorlands. In the 21st century it is unrealistic to suggest that people should "work, rest and play" exclusively in their parliamentary constituency. But, both for those like my husband who are Werrington "born and bred" or incomers like myself who have made a conscious decision to live there, there is an invisible boundary that defines "home". My children play in the Moorlands Wind Band at the Moorlands Music Centre. They belong to YOMAC - the Youth of the Moorlands Action Council and they have contributed to the young people's guide to the LA21 initiative for the Moorlands. No, the term "Moorlander" is not recently contrived and it unites us all. To the role of our MP. What then of our MP? I have grave concerns that our interests can be adequately served by the Stoke North MP. Our experience supports this. We have had problems arising from noise nuisance (an Environmental Health issue), development control and matters relating to agriculture and animal health at the time of the foot and mouth crisis.


We went to our Moorlands MP who had a full understanding of our difficulties because of her work in the constituency, her contact with our district council, councillors and those involved in agriculture. Werrington's interests are best served in this way not with "liaison", this would be a dilution of representation we believe. In last week's Leek Post Charlotte Atkins listed concerns expressed at the constituency surgeries. They mainly stemmed from district level. The unitary authority has its own boundaries, we should remain outside of them. We respectfully ask you to avoid the disruption, confusion and further voter apathy that would be inevitable with the division of our community. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much? Mr Pratt, any questions? MR PRATT: No, thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin? MR MARTIN: Why do you think people in Werrington would not exercise their vote if they changed constituency? MRS HUGHES: I think many people think perhaps it would be a more difficult route to have their problems solved perhaps. I think there is already a bit of a struggle and I think the confusion of voting for Staffordshire Moorlands Parish Council and then thinking about a Stoke North MP would not enthuse people. MR MARTIN: By the sound of it there is quite a strong community within Werrington, is that fair? MRS HUGHES: Yes, I believe so. MR MARTIN: Long may it continue to exist. Perhaps to a certain extent independent of the MP and the representation. MRS HUGHES: There has been some discussion along those lines already. MR MARTIN: Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions for this lady? (No response) Thank you very much, Mrs Hughes. Mrs Palmer, it is back to you. We have now got your statement and if you could introduce yourself for the record again we can begin. MRS PALMER: I am Mrs Doris Palmer. I am Vice Chairman of Werrington Parish Council. I live at 26 Moss Park Avenue, Werrington, Staffordshire, ST9 0LT. I have been a resident of Werrington for 35 years. I have the following submission on behalf of Werrington Parish Council.


I have a map in front of me. Looking at the map, it shows how Werrington is proposed to be split. One side of a particular street will be voting for a Stoke North MP, whilst the other side will be voting for a Staffordshire Moorlands MP. Please may I ask the Commissioner who split Werrington in this way? Many people have been born in Werrington and many people have moved to Werrington with its close community. They do not want to vote for a Stoke North MP when they live in Werrington, Staffordshire Moorlands. They want to continue to vote for a Staffordshire Moorlands MP. The community in Werrington is so close, and the people are united in this issue. Proof of this is 600 signed letters sent to the Boundary Commission by the local community against this proposal. We only had four weeks to gather together 100 objections against these proposals but so strong was the feeling that we indeed gathered together over 600. Please may I ask the Commissioner to think very hard about splitting the community of Werrington in this way, and indeed I would like to ask that the whole of Werrington should stay together in the Staffordshire Moorlands. At our parish council meeting that took place after the plans were made known to the public, we had a room full of residents who had come to the meeting because they were concerned to hear about the Boundary Commission proposals. The Chairman of the Parish Council explained to the residents that it was for the purposes of parliamentary elections only. This did not remove their concerns as they do not want to vote for a parliamentary candidate in Stoke North. The general response has been that they simply will not vote at all rather than vote in Stoke North. Werrington people pay their council tax to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and we get very good service from them. Also we have very good services in Werrington including the doctor's surgery, chemist, library, church, chapel, schools, village hall and police post. All these services are provided in or by the Staffordshire Moorlands Councils. Please may I ask the Commissioner how we could be represented on any issues concerning our Staffordshire Moorlands services by an MP who serves a neighbouring authority? It would be sad to see Werrington split in this way. The whole of Werrington belongs in Staffordshire Moorlands. Would you please think again and don't split our village. Hands off Werrington. Thank you for listening to me, Commissioner. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Mrs Palmer. Has anybody got any questions? Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: No, thank you, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin? MR MARTIN: Mrs Palmer, if you drive due north of Werrington you come up to the Bagnall, Brown Edge and Stanley area, is that right?


MRS PALMER: The boundary changes from the bottom of Brookhouse Lane. It goes right round up Ash Bank Road, turns into Washerwall Lane, the junction where you go up, along Washerwall Lane ---MR MARTIN: Can I interrupt you there, Mrs Palmer. I am just trying to ask if you go north from Werrington you come up to the other wards that we have talked about ---MRS PALMER: You are coming up the bank from Brookhouse Lane, then coming up Ash Bank, New Road and all that estate, come back on New Road into Ash Bank again and then you have got streets off Ash Bank Road and at the side of the road is a boundary for Stoke North. You come into the junction of Washerwall Lane and you go along Washerwall Lane and on your left hand side as you are coming along Washerwall Lane you have got Uplands and that goes into Stoke North and then you come into Hillside Road . This is the street where on one side they will be voting for Stoke North and on the other side they will be voting for the Moorlands. MR MARTIN: North of Werrington there are two wards that used to be in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. They are still in Staffordshire Moorlands District Council but they are now in Stoke North. You know that, do you not? MRS PALMER: Yes. MR MARTIN: Which ones are they? MRS PALMER: Bagnall is one. MR MARTIN: Do they have parish councils there in those wards? MRS PALMER: Yes. MR MARTIN: Do you have many links with their parish councils, do you meet together and discuss local issues, things like that? MRS PALMER: We do, yes. MR MARTIN: In the last five years or so have they been managing to look after the issues that parish councils look after as far as you are aware, the same issues that you in Werrington Parish Council look after? MRS PALMER: Yes. MR MARTIN: Is that area where you are in Werrington and the ones just north of it, they are still popular places to live with the locals? MRS PALMER: I think really when you come to look at the map, I do not think it has been done correctly. MR MARTIN: No, I understand that. I am just trying to get a feel of the area.


THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Do not cut her off. Can you please say what has not been done correctly. MRS PALMER: I think really the way Werrington has been split up in the streets and been split up one side north and the other side---- In my road I live in, Moss Park Avenue, that is a big road and half of the road ---THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mrs Palmer, what I think Mr Martin was asking you about was the neighbouring wards of Bagnall, Stanley, Brown Edge and Endon. What you are being asked is have they been prejudiced? Have things been worse for them because they have been put in with Stoke North? Would they be better going back to where you are or not, that is what you are being asked. MRS PALMER: I think these places have been asked to go back into the Moorlands, that is what I understand, that these places do want to go back to Staffordshire Moorlands. MR MARTIN: You have got a complaint that Werrington was split into two wards recently, was it not? Is that right? MRS PALMER: Yes. MR MARTIN: In some of the letters that have been written to the Commission they talk about house prices. MRS PALMER: No. What we did was we had a letter drafted and we asked the residents to read the letter before they signed it and they read the letter and signed it and we sent them off to the Commission in London. MR MARTIN: Yes. MRS PALMER: We did not misinform anyone at all. We did it sensibly and thought about different aspects. MR MARTIN: Yes. Do you know much about house prices in Werrington and the wards that are above it? MRS PALMER: House prices? MR MARTIN: Yes. Do you keep your finger on the pulse there at all. If this is not something that interests you it does not matter. MRS PALMER: There are various houses. It depends on the sort of house you are living in. MR MARTIN: Would you also accept that certain services like the doctor, the library, the schools and the police are provided at a county level rather than at a district level? MRS PALMER: It comes from Staffordshire Moorlands.


MR MARTIN: Does it come from Staffordshire Moorlands or does it come from the county council? MRS PALMER: The district council, yes. MR MARTIN: Thank you very much, Mrs Palmer. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions for this lady? CLLR AHMAD (Werrington Parish Council): My name is Councillor Yvonne Ahmad of Werrington Parish Council. I would like to answer one of Mrs Palmer's questions concerning the split of Werrington. I am sure she must be aware, as I do speak for the parish council she referred to, that the two wards of Werrington and the new Cellarhead ward were formed by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in 1999. This is a Conservative and Independent controlled council. The Labour Party opposed that split of Werrington at the time but failed to get that through. Also, concerning the submissions from Werrington, Mrs Palmer states that there have been 600 submissions from Werrington ---THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are you going to put a question to the lady? CLLR AHMAD: Yes. Werrington? I would like to ask what are the total number of voters in

MRS PALMER: Can I avoid that question because I just do not know how to answer? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: We should be able to help you, we have got a list here somewhere. MR PRATT: 2,822. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Pratt has the answer, 2,822. CLLR AHMAD: No, the old Werrington ward I am talking about. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Can we deal with the current wards. I am not going back to old wards, I have got to deal with the wards as they are now. CLLR AHMAD: Yes, but the submissions have come from the old Werrington ward, not the new ward. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: This lady is not able to give you the figures so can we move on. CLLR AHMAD: I can supply the figure. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Put the figure by all means.


CLLR AHMAD: It is nearly 6,000. In that case we have a submission rate of ten per cent. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I do not think anybody is arguing with your arithmetic for what it is worth. CLLR AHMAD: At the same meeting the concerns of people who attended the meeting were again that house prices would fall in Werrington. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are you making a speech because that is not what you are supposed to be doing. CLLR AHMAD: I am sorry. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: You are supposed to be asking this lady questions. I appreciate we do not have to be too formal about it but it is not the time for speeches, it is the time for questions. CLLR AHMAD: I would like to ask Mrs Palmer if she is aware that the boundary for Stokeon-Trent runs along Brookhouse Lane and has she heard any residents in that lane that have ever complained about the parliamentary boundary running along their road? MRS PALMER: No, I have not. CLLR AHMAD: Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions for Mrs Palmer? (No response) Thank you very much. Now, Mr Martin, I am in your hands as to how you want to do this. MR PRATT: I was just going to say that we have got three witnesses concerning the Staffordshire Moorlands question and the knock-on effect of that who would need to be heard at some stage this afternoon. I am not suggesting now but at some stage this afternoon they would need to be heard and I have got one other witness who needs to be heard this afternoon. I am happy as to how you wish to take it. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr Pratt. Mr Martin, it might be easiest to get the witnesses heard who need to be heard this afternoon and then you either make your submission if there is enough time this afternoon or do it tomorrow morning, whenever you see fit within the time limit. Before we come to Mr Pratt's witnesses, have you got witnesses that must be heard today that you want to call? MR MARTIN: Yes. There is certainly one witness from the Shenstone area who I would need to call and there are three other witnesses from the East Staffordshire and Huntington area who are here today. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Looking at the time there should be plenty of time. It would assist me, if you do not object, if I hear any more evidence about Werrington now in a block, as it were, and then we will hear your witnesses who have got to be heard today from wherever in the county.


MR MARTIN: Can I say this, sir: it would take a finer advocate than myself to persuade in questioning the people from Werrington who have taken the trouble to come here to change their views, so my questions are not aimed at that, as it were. I do not wish to be disrespectful to them but if it is more of the same I will not be asking a lot of questions along those lines because I am quite sure that I am not going to make any impact on their views. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I would not expect you to either. We are fortunate these days it seems to have people who will actually go and vote, let alone who will write a letter, let alone who will give up their time to come here. 600 out of 6,000 I think is quite an impressive reaction for one area, but there you are. MR MARTIN: We will be looking at it, as it were, from different angles. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Of course. Let us get on and get the people you have, Mr Pratt, who are concerned with what I call the Stoke North end of things who must be heard today. Have we got statements? MR PRATT: You should in certain cases, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I have got a statement from one Nora Salt. I do not know whether she is today or tomorrow. MR PRATT: She would be today, sir. It might be helpful to take her first. You have got statements. If anyone needs further copies I have got copies of that one. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Then we will call Mrs Nora Salt. MRS SALT: My name is Nora Salt of The Mount, Cobmore Road, Kidsgrove, Stoke-onTrent. Until my retirement I worked in the farming industry for my entire working life. I represented the Newchapel ward on both the Kidsgrove Urban District Council and Newcastle Borough Council for almost 16 years. My witness statement is made in support of the submissions on behalf of the Conservative Party and in particular for the inclusion of the wards of Butt Lane and Talke into the Newcastleunder-Lyme parliamentary constituency. During the course of my statement I will elaborate upon Paragraphs 6.1 to 6.6 of the submissions contained within the Conservative Party's counter-proposals which have been laid before this Inquiry. Butt Lane and Talke are wards that are situated in the North of the Newcastle-underLyme Borough Council boundary. With the wards of Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe and Newchapel, their residents pay their council tax to Newcastle Borough Council and elect local councillors to represent them on that borough. However, and for the purposes of a General Election, all of these wards were transferred at the last public inquiry in Staffordshire held on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 November 1993 into the Staffordshire Moorlands parliamentary constituency, following the decision of Assistant Commissioner, Nicholas Pumfrey. Prior to 1993 the wards


had elected a Stoke-on-Trent MP having previously been placed in the Stoke North parliamentary constituency. At the last inquiry in 1993, the provisional proposals of the Boundary Commission were that the four Kidsgrove wards - Ravenscliffe having only been created following the last review by the Local Government Commission in 2000 - be divided among a number of parliamentary constituencies. It was eventually decided not to split these wards, but to keep them together and transfer them from Stoke North to Staffordshire Moorlands. The purpose of my statement is two fold. Firstly, to explain why I think the wards of Kidsgrove should be split up and, in particular, that Talke and Butt Lane should be placed in the Newcastle-under-Lyme parliamentary constituency with Newchapel, Butt Lane and Ravenscliffe remaining in Staffordshire Moorlands. Secondly, to detail the reasons for this and why Talke and Butt Lane have little or no affinity with Staffordshire Moorlands but instead look to, and are more closely associated with, Newcastle-under-Lyme. I will now deal with each of these issues in turn. The people who live in Talke, Butt Lane, Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe and Newchapel are proud to proclaim that they live within these wards. However, whilst the wards do have links to one another, as with the towns comprising the city of Stoke-on-Trent which are independent, have their own distinctive identities but operate within a city federation, the Kidsgrove wards are equally similar. They are different communities that are not only very parochial but are concerned with their own issues and problems. Rather than being a well glued together entity they are, I submit, capable of being divided among different constituencies in appropriate circumstances. Certainly not only is each Kidsgrove ward separated from another by a sense of its own individual community but the wards of Butt Lane and Talke equally are separated from the rest of the Kidsgrove wards by their own clear and identifiable boundaries. Whilst Talke is, in addition, separated from Butt Lane by the A34 road, the proposed boundary between Butt Lane and Ravenscliffe, as proposed by the Conservative Party at this inquiry is a very strong one, being the railway line that runs from Stoke-on-Trent to Crewe. The argument of dividing the Kidsgrove wards from another is not merely mine. The view of distinct communities in each Kidsgrove ward was accepted by Mrs Golding, the former MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, when cross examined by Sir Ivan Lawrence QC on day two of the public inquiry on Tuesday 9 November 1993. I attach page 9 of that day's transcript at Appendix A of my statement detailing Mrs Golding's evidence on this issue. Sir, may I ask if you have this particular evidence? MR PRATT: Sir, if I can explain. We have got copies but the person who is providing them unfortunately, although he was coming today, cannot now come today but he will be here tomorrow and I will provide them for you tomorrow. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: As long as they are put in before the end of this inquiry, and I would like Mr Martin to see them. MR PRATT: Yes.


MRS SALT: Thank you. Equally, the wards of Talke and Butt Lane do not identify with large areas of the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency, and in particular, the surrounding Moorlands. Again this was a view shared by John Evans at the last public inquiry in 1993 during day one of those proceedings. I attach at Appendix B of my statement a copy of the transcript of his evidence. MR PRATT: We will provide that, again, sir, tomorrow. MRS SALT: However, I cannot accept all of Mr Evans' evidence, and in particular, that all of the Kidsgrove wards should be kept together and look to Stoke as opposed to Staffordshire Moorlands. I think a more balanced view is contained within the witness statements of Mrs Cynthia Ellis and Mr Marcus Hayes that are currently before this inquiry. Whilst I do not wish to dwell too much on their evidence, I agree with their submissions that the wards of Newchapel, Kidsgrove and Ravenscliffe have more in common affinity with Staffordshire Moorlands because of their association with Biddulph ( a view accepted by Mr Evans), as I would submit Talke and Butt Lane do, as far as the town of Newcastle-under-Lyme is concerned. Without doubt, residents who live in Butt Lane and Talke look towards Newcastle under Lyme as one of their major towns for work, shopping and leisure. Many of these ward residents commute to work on the Parkside Industrial Estate within the Newcastle parliamentary constituency and the majority of bus services go to and from Newcastle. Both wards are connected to the town of Newcastle by the A34 road. Equally, neither Talke or Butt Lane are connected to any part of the Staffordshire Moorlands by road, the only road link being between Kidsgrove and Biddulph. The clear benefit for these wards in having coterminous boundaries between local and parliamentary elections concerns the delivery of services and stronger local links. If the wards, following this Inquiry, are included within the Newcastle-under-Lyme parliamentary constituency, I submit that local people will find it easier to identify with their Member Of Parliament who can then represent them more effectively. This would also cut down the problems of administration during a General Election with fewer Kidsgrove wards remaining in the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency. This view is not merely my own but shared by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, as detailed in their own submission before this Inquiry. In conclusion, people in Talke and Butt Lane are very parochial and are proud of that fact. The wards have quite a different landscape, problems and needs from the Staffordshire Moorlands and are inextricably linked to the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. For this reason they would be better served by a Newcastle-under-Lyme MP rather than one representing the Staffordshire Moorlands. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Martin? Thank you very much. Any questions? Mr

MR MARTIN: Mrs Salt. You live in Kidsgrove, do you not? MRS SALT: Yes. MR MARTIN: There seem to be five wards there, is that right?


MRS SALT: Yes, they have just made a new ward called Ravenscliffe. MR MARTIN: If you had five different people living in those five different wards they would all say they are from Kidsgrove? MRS SALT: Yes. Kidsgrove has been the umbrella name for so many years for the whole of those areas. MR MARTIN: You served for possibly 16 years on the Kidsgrove Urban District Council? MRS SALT: Not the Kidsgrove Urban District Council. I was on the Kidsgrove Urban District Council for three years. MR MARTIN: Three years. MRS SALT: I served the Newcastle Borough Council after the changeover in 1973 for 16 years. MR MARTIN: Did you find the Kidsgrove Urban District Council had a certain community which worked well within the wards that were part of it? MRS SALT: We did but again I must say that people on the side where the Newchapel ward and the Mow Cop area is, I have to say that those people there have a big affinity towards Biddulph and use Biddulph I think more than they do Kidsgrove. MR MARTIN: You referred to the last boundary review, were you there, did you go along to that? MRS SALT: No. MR MARTIN: Did you hear there was quite a lot of debate on that occasion about keeping Kidsgrove together? MRS SALT: No. MR MARTIN: One of the proposals on that occasion was that Kidsgrove be split, do you remember that, between parliamentary seats? MRS SALT: We were split, not at the last Boundary Commission but the one before, that was when we were taken into Stoke North for a short while, I think I am right. MR MARTIN: All of Kidsgrove? MRS SALT: Yes. MR MARTIN: On the last occasion the proposal was to split Kidsgrove?


MRS SALT: The way I have stated it is that Butt Lane and Talke wards are nearer and have a boundary with Newcastle. I think they have much more affinity with Newcastle than the other wards have. MR MARTIN: You understand that effectively the publicity - if I can put it like that - about this review has not really concentrated on the concept of splitting Kidsgrove up - do you understand what I mean - that has not been the proposal which has had much publicity, would it be fair to say? MRS SALT: I would say that but things that happen between councils and county councils, I am afraid we do not get to hear very much about. MR MARTIN: Would you accept that if that had been uppermost in everybody's mind there would be quite a lot of people from Kidsgrove who would say they would like the community to go at Kidsgrove as a unity? Would that be fair? There are arguments either side. MRS SALT: I think you will find we have three wards which are very much together and the other two are well and truly divided and have been workwise recently. Quite a number of people from the Talke and Butt Lane areas were employed by ICL which is now transferring, I understand, to Crewe, and which has been a very big blow to all people in that area. Now they are looking towards Newcastle because the work that is coming is coming on the industrial estate at Parkside. MR MARTIN: Ideally though, is it not the case that if possible Kidsgrove should be kept together? That would be the best thing to happen, is it not? MRS SALT: I do not think so. I do not know whether you have been around our area, I do not know whether you have seen Kidsgrove, I do not know whether you have seen the Manor Park side of Kidsgrove or any of those areas but they have more in common with Biddulph than Kidsgrove. MR MARTIN: If Kidsgrove was the centre, you would not set out to split up Kidsgrove, would you, realistically? MRS SALT: We have not got a population big enough to have an MP of our own. We have to be aligned to somebody else. We are not big enough. I feel here that the worst of the two evils is for us to go with the friends who we have already got, and for the people in Butt Lane and Talke to be where they are going to be supplied with not only transport and jobs, it is in an area that they know and that they are committed to. MR MARTIN: How has it worked in the last five years with the constituency shape that it has been? MRS SALT: Not very good I do not think. MR MARTIN: Why not?


MRS SALT: I do not like the way things are being done now. It is them and us, a lot of that comes into it. I even did put up in the election to see whether I could get on the council again because I wanted more than anything else to find out what was really happening. MR MARTIN: Let me rephrase it. If you wanted to get in touch with your MP, they are not miles away, is it possible to get in touch with them? MRS SALT: There is one thing about it, you do not get very much help from them. I am very sorry. I would like to think that they are doing very well for us in London and they are putting the case in London but we as local people have to run most of our own affairs and we have to do our own work. MR MARTIN: When you say "we as local people" you mean the people in Kidsgrove? MRS SALT: Yes, people in Kidsgrove. MR MARTIN: Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any questions from anybody else taking their life in their hands! (Laughter) (No response) Thank you very much, Mrs Salt. MRS SALT: Thank you. MR PRATT: If we can now move to Mrs Cynthia Ellis. MRS ELLIS: My name is Cynthia Ellis, I live at 103 Springfield Road, Biddulph. I represented the Biddulph South ward on Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for 8 years and during this time was elected as its Chairman. For the past 8 years I have been elected as a Town Councillor to serve on the Biddulph Town Council. Biddulph South ward abuts on to Newchapel ward. My witness statement is made in support of the submissions on behalf of the Conservative Party herein, and in particular, for the continued inclusion of the wards of Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe and Newchapel in the Staffordshire Moorlands parliamentary constituency. During the course of my statement I will elaborate upon paragraphs 6.1 to 6.6 of the submissions contained within the Conservative Party's counter-proposals which have been laid before this Inquiry. Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe and Newchapel are wards that are situated in the north of the Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council boundary. With the wards of Butt lane and Talke, their residents pay their council tax to Newcastle Borough Council and elect local councillors to represent them on that borough. However, and for the purposes of a General Election, all of these wards were transferred at the last Public Inquiry in Staffordshire held on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 November 1993 into the Staffordshire Moorlands parliamentary constituency, following the decision of Assistant Commissioner, Nicholas Pumfrey. Prior to1993 the wards had elected a Stoke-on-Trent MP having previously been placed in the Stoke North parliamentary constituency.


At that last Inquiry in 1993, the Provisional Proposals of the Boundary Commission were that the four Kidsgrove wards (Ravenscliffe having only been created following the last review by the Local Government Commission in 2000) be divided among a number of parliamentary constituencies. It was eventually decided not to split these wards, but to keep them together and transfer them from Stoke North to Staffordshire Moorlands. The purpose of my statement is simple: to explain why I think the wards of Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe and Newchapel (ie the three Kidsgrove wards) should be kept in the Staffordshire Moorlands parliamentary constituency and be split from Talke and Butt Lane by placing them instead into the Newcastle-under-Lyme parliamentary constituency. I have had an opportunity to read the witness statements of Mrs Nora Salt and Mr Marcus Hayes. I agree with their submissions in that the people who live in Talke and Butt Lane have quite a different landscape, problems and needs from the Staffordshire Moorlands and are inextricably linked to the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. However, this can not be said to apply to the wards of Kidsgrove, Ravenscliffe and Newchapel who have a strong affinity with Staffordshire Moorlands and, in particular with the town of Biddulph. The view of myself and many in Biddulph and the three Kidsgrove wards is that these communities have many historical and social characteristics and current day links. For example, Kidsgrove and Biddulph are joined by an existing road and share a common history of industrial development. Quite naturally the three Kidsgrove wards have an inextricable link with Biddulph, and it would be unfortunate if the three Kidsgrove wards were detached. In addition to this, the social services provision for Biddulph has been for many years based in Kidsgrove and therefore this causes an even stronger link with Biddulph and the Staffordshire Moorlands. I would like this to be included as part of my statement. Thank you, Chairman. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Mrs Ellis. Mr Martin? MR MARTIN: Does Biddulph have a mayor? MRS ELLIS: Yes. MR MARTIN: Does Kidsgrove have a mayor? MRS ELLIS: Yes. MR MARTIN: And that mayor represents, I think, the five wards that we have been talking about, is that right? MRS ELLIS: Presumably. MR MARTIN: Do you actually think that it is a first priority to split Kidsgrove up? Would it be better to keep Kidsgrove together if at all possible? MRS ELLIS: I think that any local community is better kept together rather than being split but with the present circumstances that exist in Kidsgrove the wards of Talke and Butt Lane have grown at a tremendous rate over the last few years and I think that most of their labour force and their general social life is more geared to the Newcastle area than it is to Staffordshire Moorlands.


MR MARTIN: So the reality of what you are saying is that if we have to go down the numbers game which takes us to forcing Kidsgrove to be split up, that is the way we should do it? MRS ELLIS: Yes. MR MARTIN: Rather than saying, which is the other side of the coin, that in fact the wards in Kidsgrove, although like all wards they differ slightly, they have a great deal of interest between the five wards, they have a mayor? MRS ELLIS: I agree with you. We do not live in an ideal world, unfortunately. MR MARTIN: No, thank you very much. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any questions? CLLR RALPHS (Staffordshire Moorlands District Council): Could I just ask Mrs Ellis a question. Am I right in thinking that in view of what Mr Martin has just said that the Mayor of Kidsgrove is elected by the Newcastle authority and the Mayor of Biddulph is elected by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council? MRS ELLIS: No. The town councils in each town elect their own mayor. The Kidsgrove Town Council and the Biddulph Town Council elect their own mayors. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions? (No response) you very much, Mrs Ellis. MR PRATT: Next if we can come to Councillor Sybil Ralphs. CLLR RALPHS: My name is Sybil Ralphs of Tuscany House, Stanley Brook, Stoke-onTrent. I am a retired Ofsted Inspector. I was born in Bagnall and, for the majority of my life, have lived within this area. I have represented the Endon and Stanley Ward (which also includes Bagnall and Stockton Brook) for almost 8 years on Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, and I was elected there two years ago. For the past 10 years I have served as a Parish Councillor on the Bagnall Parish Council. Earlier this year I was appointed as one of the Cabinet Members on the District Council with responsibility for Support Services. My witness statement is made in support of the Submissions on behalf of the Conservative Party herein, and in particular, for the return of the wards of Bagnall, Stanley, Brown Edge and Endon to the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. Although I do not intend to address any of my comments to the Inquiry about the submission over whether Stoke-on-Trent should become a unitary authority or not for parliamentary elections, I do wish to have an opportunity to elaborate upon Paragraphs 5.1 to 5.5 of the submissions contained within the Conservative Party's counter-proposals which have been laid before this Inquiry. Brown Edge, Endon, Stanley and Bagnall are located in the west of the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council boundary. Despite submissions at the last Public Inquiry in No. Thank


Staffordshire held on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 November 1993 that the above mentioned wards should remain in Staffordshire Moorlands, the Assistant Commissioner decided to transfer these wards to the Stoke on Trent North parliamentary constituency. This was, in many people's opinion, an error of judgement. The people who live in these parishes are proud to proclaim that they live within the Staffordshire Moorlands. They have chosen to live in these rural and semirural areas, and have no wish to become part of an urban conglomerate. Although I do not have precise figures, there are an increasing number of people from these areas who choose now to work in Staffordshire Moorlands rather than in Stoke-on-Trent for the understandable reason that there is a far lower level of unemployment now in the Staffordshire Moorlands. When, as on this occasion, there were rumours about boundary changes, and the possibility that these parishes should remain in the Stoke-on-Trent North parliamentary constituency, time and time again people have contacted me to ask for reassurance that their areas could perhaps be returned to Staffordshire Moorlands for General Election purposes. The Inquiry will, of course, be aware at the strength of feeling on this issue by the number of representations that have been made to the Boundary Commission prior to the commencement of this hearing. Those representations are not merely from local people, but they are from Endon Parish Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. If the current parliamentary boundaries are maintained and local people are unable to identify with the Staffordshire Moorlands parliamentary constituency, I sincerely believe that there will be a serious division within the communities. People who live in rural and semi-rural areas have a pronounced sense of identify. They feel they have no affinity with the people living within the city conglomeration. If they are compelled by this Inquiry to remain part of a Stokeon-Trent constituency, many people will feel, they say, that they have become part of what I call the "Tower Block" syndrome. Equally they share the horror of being swallowed up by a neighbouring urban area where they feel they will be anonymous and lose their Staffordshire Moorlands identity. The clear benefit for the parishes when there were coterminous boundaries between local and parliamentary elections concerned the delivery of services and stronger local links, which would otherwise be destroyed. Already as a District Councillor sitting on Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, I am asked to support the work of the Staffordshire Moorlands Primary Care Group, even though their work will not benefit one person who lives in my ward. This is clearly a nonsense. People who live in these parishes pay their council tax to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. They elect local councillors who live in Staffordshire Moorlands to represent them on its District Council. However, inequitably they have been deprived of their right to elect a Staffordshire Moorlands Member of Parliament. Currently considerable confusion exists at election time regarding the County, the local District Council and the parliamentary boundaries. Consequently, I know of many people who do not even bother to vote, which all parties, whatever their political persuasion, wish to avoid. People in Endon, Brown Edge, Bagnall and Stanley are very parochial and are rightly proud of that fact. The parishes have quite a different landscape, problems and needs from those of a city area. If they continue to be swallowed up any further by its neighbouring urban area,


many local people are concerned they will experience the same problems of unemployment and poor delivery of services as presently suffered by the people who live in the city area. I submit, therefore, that these parishes should be returned to the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency for parliamentary elections as geographically and historically they are inextricably linked to this area. Thank you, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Mrs Ralphs. Mr Martin, any questions? MR MARTIN: Do you accept, Mrs Ralphs, that the whole area of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council cannot simply return one Member of Parliament? CLLR RALPHS: Yes. MR MARTIN: So something has got to give. CLLR RALPHS: Yes. MR MARTIN: You say that you were born in Bagnall and have lived there most of your life. CLLR RALPHS: Yes. MR MARTIN: Has it changed a lot, particularly in respect of the number of people living there from when you were born? CLLR RALPHS: No. MR MARTIN: Has it grown? CLLR RALPHS: No. MR MARTIN: Have any of the other villages there - Endon, Stanley, that area - grown in size? CLLR RALPHS: Yes, they have. MR MARTIN: Is that new developments? New in the sense of the last ten or 20 years or so? CLLR RALPHS: I think you have to go back two decades to when, perhaps, mass development ceased in Endon. I think over the last two decades development has really been curtailed. MR MARTIN: Yes. Do you think the people who have moved into those areas came from the Moorlands or from the city? CLLR RALPHS: They came from the city.


MR MARTIN: Do they continue to work in the city, do you think? CLLR RALPHS: No, not necessarily. MR MARTIN: Would that be a predominant area of employment, do you think, for people in those wards? CLLR RALPHS: If you had asked me that question even five years ago I would have agreed, yes, but not now. MR MARTIN: When people speak to you, presumably you tell them to carry on voting, do you? CLLR RALPHS: I never encourage people to vote. I think that is up to individual people. If they ask me who they should vote for then that is a different matter. Usually I hope they vote for me. MR MARTIN: That is fair enough. The reality of it is, it is not, that people in those wards are sufficiently strong minded to exercise their vote if they wish? CLLR RALPHS: Yes, indeed. MR MARTIN: That is precisely what they do, is it not? CLLR RALPHS: One would hope so. MR MARTIN: Having been born in Bagnall and that area, you describe it as very parochial and you are proud of that fact? CLLR RALPHS: I am sorry, I did not hear the question. MR MARTIN: You describe it as very parochial and proud of that fact? CLLR RALPHS: Very much so. MR MARTIN: So there are strong communities within those areas? CLLR RALPHS: I would say so. MR MARTIN: They retain an identity even though there is a large conurbation only a matter of miles away? CLLR RALPHS: Yes, they do. MR MARTIN: The reality is they are not going to lose that identity, are they, if their representation is linked with people who happen to live a few miles away but in a more urban situation?


CLLR RALPHS: why I am here today.

I am only expressing the views which have been given to me. That is

MR MARTIN: Yes. CLLR RALPHS: I am furthering the comments and concerns which have been expressed to me. MR MARTIN: As I have said, I am certain I am not going to convince people, that is not the object of my question. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: No questions, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Anybody else? CLLR AHMAD: I would like to ask Councillor Ralphs two questions. I believe for the past five years she has been represented by an MP from the Stoke North area. I would like to ask her if she has been satisfied with that representation? Question two. In her remarks she referred to the swallowing up of part of her district by the Stoke-on-Trent conurbation. In that case can she please tell us which part of her district has been incorporated into the city boundary recently? CLLR RALPHS: I am quite happy, sir, to answer Mrs Ahmad's question. The first part of course I will answer. I think it is unfortunate that you have to bring the personality of an MP into this inquiry to ask about her efficiency but I am happy to support Joan Walley's CV today. I do not want to get political. She might be totally opposed to me politically but we are talking about her work. If she is not embarrassed then I am quite happy to support the fact that I have a very good working relationship with Joan Walley. I am extremely glad of that. I cannot say that for all the Labour MPs but I can in Joan Walley's case. I enjoy a good working relationship with Joan Walley because she never pushes her political views down my throat. She is hard working and she is honest so, to me, in anyone's book that is good. Secondly, you know very well that over the last five years there has not been any alteration in the boundaries, if that is what you are asking. I would have hoped living locally, Mrs Ahmad, you would have known that but never mind. What I am saying is we are talking about the proposed boundary changes now and we are talking about people's concerns that they do not wish to remain within an urban parliamentary constituency. They would like to return to the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency for all the reasons that I have expressed today. I know they very genuinely want that. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Any other questions? MR LEVITT: My name is John Levitt and I live in Leek. I would like to ask Mrs Ralphs does she believe in the importance of the principle of equal value across the country as far as figures attained in parliamentary votes? CLLR RALPHS: Yes, I do. I think that is the democratic way.


MR LEVITT: Yes. CLLR RALPHS: At the same time we have a duty. We are elected representatives whether it be at local level or parliamentary level. We have a duty to make sure the concerns and views of all the electorate are expressed at the appropriate time. MR LEVITT: Would you accept at the same time then that where adjustments are needed, as inevitably they will be needed, that those adjustments should be made with the minimum change and the minimum disruption to existing constituents? CLLR RALPHS: I am glad you asked me that question because that is the argument that I have heard over the last few weeks when we knew this was going to happen. People are using the word gerrymandering to me, but we do not want to introduce a political phrase into this, this afternoon. What people are concerned about is because the numbers are going down in one area in the unitary authority of Stoke-on-Trent, they are concerned that they are being used to make those numbers up. People in the Staffordshire Moorlands are afeared that Endon, Bagnall, Stanley and Brown Edge, it is proposed to retain those and include Werrington and people now say if the numbers in Stoke-on-Trent continue to fall - which they are doing - what will be next, will it be Churnet, will it be Horton, will it be Biddulph, I go on, so that in actual fact the identity of the Staffordshire Moorlands will eventually be lost forever. That is the fear of people. MR LEVITT: It is the sort of argument, surely, that would have been made by the Master of the Manor in the nineteenth century when left with three voters. He would have expressed the view that it should be left by itself and not merged with the metropolis. It has to be done because basically it depends on the votes being equal for electing a Member of Parliament. If ultimately the population in Stoke-on-Trent declines considerably would it not be unfair to take parts from other constituencies into it to even up the franchise? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I think we are all agreed on that principle. MR LEVITT: It does not seem so. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: It is a question of which part of which constituency you use. Do you use the part which might in one view cause the most heartache, be the most inconsistent with the rural areas and so on when there is another part you might use. That is the debate. Nobody has made up their minds but this is what is being said. I do not think it is helpful for you to talk about numbers because we are all aware of the numbers and we are all striving to achieve as much balance and equality of numbers as possible. That is not what the argument is about. The argument is about which people from which parts are most fairly and properly to be represented in a constituency. That is what it is about. MR LEVITT: Indeed. The proposal Mrs Ralphs makes would by itself make the matter worse. That is the point I am making. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Any other questions? (No response) Have we done all your today's people? MR PRATT: We have done the three related to the Staffordshire Moorlands issue. I have a further witness in relation to Stone who needs to be heard this afternoon. I am flexible when.


THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Well, it is quite hot. Let us take our break a little early. It is 3.25. We will have a fifteen minute tea break. Then we will take your one as long as there is plenty of time for Mr Martin to speak. All right. Time Noted: 3.25 pm After a short break Time Noted: 3.40 pm THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin, Mr Pratt, it is now 3.40. I have been approached by a Councillor Austin Hanchard whose submission is going to be very, very short. He was called before but could not be here earlier. I am going to interpose his submission very briefly and then we will resume as before. Have you got anything in writing, Councillor Hanchard? CLLR HANCHARD (Werrington Parish Councillor): No, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Can you speak clearly and say everything you want to say. I think you want to try and clear up some confusion which you believe has arisen. CLLR HANCHARD: Thank you very much, Assistant Commissioner. I did ask earlier and was told that this question had been asked. In fact it is answered in 5.1 but I will ask it anyway. I wonder if someone from perhaps the Boundary Commission could in simple terms explain the ramifications of this proposal, the purpose of it and the ramifications of the boundary change with reference to local government administration in terms of the payment of rates and the provision of services. For example, to which local authority would the people of Werrington pay our rates, that is the part of Werrington which is affected, and which party would provide the services? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: You have raised a very simple question, perhaps you could answer it for us because I am sure you know the answer. CLLR HANCHARD: Thank you very much. I am doing this because as a district councillor I am often asked this question - I am Austin Hanchard and I am on the district council - as I am on the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and people doubt the answers they are given. Of course as stated there will be no change at local level. The services that SMDC provide will continue as they are and the same applies to Staffordshire County Council. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you for confirming that. That is a point the Commission themselves have been anxious - because of some of the letters which have come in in protest - to make clear. It is common ground and you are confirming what is the correct view. Thank you very much for coming along to do so. Does anybody have any questions for Councillor Hanchard? I doubt it because I do not think anybody disagrees with the point he makes. (No response) Thank you very much. Right, now, Mr Pratt, you have one more witness?


MR PRATT: That is right. Can I call Councillor Davis. CLLR DAVIS (Stafford Borough Councillor): Thank you, Sir. My name is Douglas Davis. I am the district councillor for the Milwich ward of Stafford Borough Council and also the Deputy Chairman (Political) for the Stone Constituency Conservative Association. Since the formation of the new constituency the public as voters have accepted the form and size of the present constituency, I would accept the proposals of the Commission with regard to the minimum additions of Bradley, Salt and the loss of Ellenhall, Ranton and Hixon, these minimal proposals would once again produce a viable parliamentary constituency. A clear community identity has now emerged in the whole of the constituency and to make only these small changes would add to the objective of encouraging the electorate to vote in both parliamentary and local elections, as the new constituency. Stone is a new constituency with the first General Election being in 1997 and the natural growth in the towns and villages with the additional wards and population who qualify to vote should be the only increase in the constituency. I am given to understand that a proposal has been made to move the Seighford ward from the Stafford constituency into the Stone constituency and I would oppose this. My experience as a councillor in Stafford Borough allows me to point out that the community of Seighford and the rural area contained within the ward all naturally look to Stafford as the centre. All bus routes run to Stafford and no link is made to Stone, in recreation terms the major facilities are in Stafford, also the main shopping areas are in Stafford, and, most importantly, the schooling of the children in the area is again centred on Stafford. The community of Seighford look toward Stafford as the centre and so no grounds, in my opinion, exist to consider the includsion of this ward into the Stone constituency. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr Davis. MR MARTIN: Mr Davies, if we look at the map showing the shape of the Stone constituency we can see that it covers a wide swathe running from west to east of mid Staffordshire, does it not? CLLR DAVIS: Yes indeed. MR MARTIN: It does not have any substantial urban concentration other than Stone itself. CLLR DAVIS: That is correct. MR MARTIN: I am afraid I have forgotten the name of the ward, number four. CLLR DAVIS: Seighford. MR MARTIN: No, Seighford, I think, is 21.


CLLR DAVIS: It may be Salt. Church Eaton. MR MARTIN: The reality of it is Seighford, if numbers were an issue, has similarities with Salt and Church Eaton in the sense of its links to Stone. It is a mainly rural ward with similarities to Church Eaton. CLLR DAVIS: Very similar, yes, in nature but, again, I would emphasise that Seighford looks towards Stafford and not towards Stone. MR MARTIN: It is certainly closer to Stafford, I can see that. CLLR DAVIS: I think it is also a legacy from the reorganisation of Stone rural and Stafford rural which took place in 1974 when the four authorities were merged into Stafford Borough. Seighford ward was originally in Stafford rural. MR MARTIN: I think at one stage Stafford and Stone were linked as a seat, were they not? CLLR DAVIS: No, there is Stone Urban District Council and Stone Rural District Council. MR MARTIN: As a parliamentary seat. CLLR DAVIS: As a parliamentary seat, yes. MR MARTIN: Which would have included Seighford? CLLR DAVIS: Yes. MR MARTIN: So if one was looking at the numbers issue, transferring Seighford into Stone would not necessarily breach any great social ties. CLLR DAVIS: I believe it would looking at it purely from a numbers issue. There is an argument that the Stone constituency as a whole, which is very much a kidney shaped constituency between the two conurbations ---MR MARTIN: Kidney shaped but not Kidney represented. CLLR DAVIS: The point I was trying to make was in Seighford people look to Stafford and to just look at the numbers only I think is wrong. I think the one thing you cannot do is just look at it numerically and disallow the thought that there are clear communities. Seighford is a rural community and there is a distinct difference between a rural community and a semi-urban community. MR MARTIN: Seighford is a rural community? CLLR DAVIS: Yes. MR MARTIN: It would have more in common, would it not, with the Stone constituency than the Stafford constituency?


CLLR DAVIS: Yes, but the Stafford constituency has a large rural area as well. MR MARTIN: Yes. CLLR DAVIS: There is still this identity from the past that Seighford ward on the old Stafford Rural District Council looks historically towards Stafford and not towards Stone, that is the point I am making. MR MARTIN: Stone itself in the last ten years has increased in size and the facilities it has available, would you agree with that? CLLR DAVIS: Yes. MR MARTIN: I think more employment, more industrial estates are there and more entertainment, more pubs and that sort of thing. CLLR DAVIS: Yes, that is correct. MR MARTIN: So, although it is not the size of Stafford yet, it does provide certain services that will be available to the people of Seighford who are mobile CLLR DAVIS: That is the point that I am making. Although the availability is there in Stone people still go to Stafford and not to Stone because they have accepted the history. MR MARTIN: Yes, thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: Thank you very much. In terms of the issue of numbers, and the gentleman has asked you about the issue of numbers, is it correct that if Seighford came out of Stafford into Stone it would make the Stafford constituency further away from the electoral quota than the Commission's proposals and also the Stone constituency further over the electoral quota than it is under the electoral quota under the Commission's proposals? So both constituencies would be further away from the electoral quota than the Commission's proposals if Seighford was moved from Stafford to Stone? CLLR DAVIS: Yes. MR PRATT: Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Any other questions? (No response) Thank you very much, Mr Davis. Mr Pratt, does that conclude the witnesses you have to call today? MR PRATT: Yes, it does, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Over to you then, Mr Martin. There is a list here. MR MARTIN: Number 15 I was hoping for next, Mr James Fellows.


MR FELLOWS: My name is James Fellows. I am a resident of Shenstone and live at 32 Schoolfields Road, Shenstone in Staffordshire. I have lived in Shenstone since 1974 and am involved in lots of activity within the community. Many of the issues which arise in the village are matters which need to be raised with Lichfield District Council and often involve a visit to the town. The majority of our children go to Lichfield School, our doctors and dentists are based there. We have limited bus services that run from Birmingham via Shenstone to Lichfield and we have the cross-city railway that does the same, stopping at Shenstone. Arranging to visit an MP based in Tamworth is difficult for anybody who does not have a car. Since there is a significant number of older people in Shenstone this would apply to quite a few people. You would normally have to go to Lichfield first and change transport there to get to Tamworth. As part of the Tamworth constituency we feel that we are cut off from the town towards which we naturally look - Lichfield. It is the near universal view of people living here that they identify with Lichfield rather than Tamworth. They cannot understand why they are part of Tamworth constituency. Transferring Shenstone, Stonnall and Little Aston to Lichfield constituency would be widely welcomed by local people, as shown by the names collected in a short time on a petition which I organised. I cannot see how anyone could argue that moving the parliamentary boundary is not in the interests of the people who live in the Shenstone area. That is the end of my written statement but I would like to make a general statement in addition to that. Having had the last few days to canvass opinion in the village of Shenstone I can say with confidence that the universal opinion amongst the residents of Shenstone is that their best interests would be served by being in a Lichfield constituency. I was also surprised to find that there is a significant number of voters in Shenstone who have not voted since being included in the Tamworth constituency and say that they will continue to treat parliamentary voting that way until they are out of that constituency. They believe that being in the Tamworth constituency a lot of the issues raised by the Tamworth Borough for support by the MP are often in direct conflict to the best interests of the minority group in Shenstone and Lichfield Rural East. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: Mr Fellows, you have lived in Shenstone since 1974. Am I right in saying you have been in a constituency including Tamworth for all that time? MR FELLOWS: Yes.


MR PRATT: In terms of the near universal view of people that they would like to be in Lichfield, have you managed to see the representations that have been sent to the Commission? MR FELLOWS: I have not seen all of them but I have talked to a great many people firsthand and they are of that opinion. However, I know that there is a Conservative Party move for political reasons to raise that sort of opinion. MR PRATT: With all due respect, sir, the Conservative Party is actually supporting the Boundary Commission's proposals, it is not any particular Conservative Party matter, it is supporting the Boundary Commission's proposals. Am I right in saying that the Boundary Commission's proposals do not move one elector from the current Tamworth constituency? MR FELLOWS: I will have to accept your word for that. MR PRATT: In terms of the issue with Lichfield, do you accept that Tamworth Borough on its own is not large enough to form a parliamentary constituency? MR FELLOWS: I agree that they have to find voters from somewhere else. If you look at the map you see Shenstone placed there south of Lichfield has got to be joined up to all of the territories east of Lichfield, which is a bit like cutting off your right leg and joining it to your left shoulder just to make a pattern. It is making the numbers rule the lives of people and people feel that is what is happening by moving constituencies like this. Everyone believes that their life revolves around what happens in Lichfield. Particularly as people get older, and a lot of retired people live in Lichfield, they feel that is where their future lies even though their own MP is Tamworth, that is where the progress is going on. MR PRATT: That is surely because they are part of Lichfield District Council and it is only the Lichfield wards that can be added to Tamworth, is it not? MR FELLOWS: No, they think that on the issues that will get the weight of the MP behind them they find themselves in conflict with the aspirations of Tamworth since they are the minority numbers. This has already shown up on one or two issues. They feel that they are so geographically separated from the interests of Tamworth that their best interests are not necessarily served by the issues promoted by Tamworth. MR PRATT: I asked you, and I am sorry I just want to follow it through, about the representations. I am right, am I not, that there have been a lot of representations from Whittington and the people in Whittington feel equally strongly and they are a current part of Lichfield constituency, are they not? MR FELLOWS: I can agree there, I feel the same way that Whittington does. Shenstone is a very strong village community and I think Whittington is probably the same. However, I think in the geographical locations between Tamworth and Lichfield and Shenstone and Lichfield, I would say that Shenstone has got the bigger difference if you take numbers and if you are basing it on numbers. It makes more sense taking Whittington than Shenstone. MR PRATT: But you cannot just take Shenstone, you have to take Little Aston and Stonnell as well.


MR FELLOWS: Shall we say there you are not breaking up communities. You could argue that Little Aston is better allied to Sutton Coldfield and places like that. Again it is what you want to do with numbers. Since you are taking numbers you are not really breaking up the community there. Little Aston wherever you put it is a community on its own and is strong enough to resist most incursions, as you probably know. MR PRATT: In terms of numbers, is it not right, sir, that the Boundary Commission proposals for both Tamworth and Lichfield are much closer to the electoral norm, the electoral quota they have to work to, than are the proposals if you swap the three wards of Little Aston, Shenstone and Stonnall with Whittingdon? MR FELLOWS: Listening to Brian Jenkins' figures that does not seem to hold water. MR PRATT: The Boundary Commission has to use its own figures as of 2000. Is it not correct that those are the figures the Boundary Commission has to use for parliamentary constituencies? MR FELLOWS: Knowing most Government figures they are usually out of date by the time they are put into use. MR PRATT: No further questions, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin? MR MARTIN: No further questions, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Anybody else any questions for Mr Fellows? (No response) Thank you very much. MR MARTIN: Sir, Councillor Edginton is statement number 13 in our bundle. CLLR EDGINTON (East Staffordshire Borough Councillor): Thank you, Sir. My name is Councillor Peter Edginton and I live at 18 Bentley Road in Uttoxeter. I have been a member of the East Staffordshire Borough Council since 1979 and represent the Heath Ward in Uttoxeter. Currently I am one of the Deputy Leaders of the Council and am responsible for Corporate Affairs. I am a retired Post Office worker. As a strong advocate of the East Staffordshire Borough I would naturally prefer to retain the whole of the borough in one Burton Westminster Constituency. However, I realise that the growth in population made this impossible at the last review and that continuing population growth means that once again we have to reduce the number of voters in the Burton-on-Trent constituency. Given this necessity, and bearing in mind the areas which were transferred out last time round, (and I refer to Yoxall and Bagots, of course) it appears to me and to members of my Council Group, who form the majority on East Staffordshire Borough Council, that it is logical to transfer Needwood Ward to Lichfield constituency this time.


Undoubtedly residents of the area will regret this move because they are part of the borough and will no doubt be entirely satisfied with the service given by their current Member of Parliament. They will identify with the borough too. I realise that the Boundary Commission have to make a change, I accept this need and therefore endorse the draft proposals in respect of Burton and Lichfield. As a senior member of the Borough Council I shall be anxious to reassure residents affected by this change that they will continue to be part of East Staffordshire borough and will continue to enjoy exactly the same services as at present. Can I add to my statement, sir, as an individual. I have submitted a proposal to change the name of the constituency from Burton constituency to Burton and Uttoxeter constituency. I think the growth of the population in Uttoxeter and certainly also the large rural Uttoxeter area makes it appropriate to alter the name at this stage to reflect the current situation. I would ask that the Boundary Commissioners look at that when they look at the whole matter of Burton constituency. Thank you very much. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: You accept the ties of the Needwood ward are to Burton and it is regrettable that would have to move out of the Burton constituency? CLLR EDGINTON: I accept that situation, sir. As I have said in my statement as a long serving member of the Council and as a former mayor of the borough of East Staffordshire, I am very familiar with the whole area within the constituency and the borough council, including Needwood. In my opinion we cannot ignore the facts in regard to population growth. It is all representation. I think to ignore such growth and reduce representation would in my opinion be irresponsible. MR PRATT: If it is found that like the last time when the last inquiry was held that a way can be found for Needwood to be included in the Burton constituency with no other changes, you would not on local ties grounds object, you would only object because of the electorate? CLLR EDGINTON: Obviously I have already stated as a member of the East Staffordshire Borough Council I would not want to lose Needwood out of the constituency but the Commissioners have set down the criteria in regard to figures. Unless they change that criteria I cannot see what else we can do looking at the constituency as a whole. MR PRATT: Finally, in your last but one paragraph you say you endorse their draft proposals in respect of Burton and Lichfield. So you are supporting, basically, the Boundary Commission proposals for Burton and Lichfield constituency? CLLR EDGINTON: Yes. MR PRATT: Thank you very much.



Any other questions? (No response) Thank you

MR MARTIN: Councillor Susan Walker, please, who is at 14 in the bundle. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Yes? CLLR WALKER (Barton Parish Council): I am Susan Walker and I live at 274 Efflinch Lane, Barton-under-Needwood. I would like to say that I grew up in Alrewas and have lived there for 16 years. Alrewas was in the Lichfield District Council area as well as being in the Lichfield constituency. It is only now that I live in Barton-under-Needwood that I have the pleasure of living in East Staffordshire Borough which is in the Burton constituency. I have lived there for the past 14 years. I am a member of the Barton Parish Council and I am active in the local community. I run the local pre-school playgroup and am a governor at the local infants school. My activities bring me in to regular contact with the Member of Parliament for Burton, Janet Dean, and I have no personal desire for this area to be moved out of the East Staffordshire District or the Burton constituency. However, I do understand the criteria that are being applied to the processes of reviewing parliamentary boundaries and I acknowledge that the Burton constituency is now simply too large to retain its current boundaries. Reluctantly, on the basis that Barton-under-Needwood stays within the East Staffordshire Borough, I accept that we will be moved for parliamentary purposes. Such a move is easier to accept since the villages close to Barton but already in Lichfield constituency have very much in common with my own ward. For example, several children from Yoxall come to school in Barton and vice versa. People from many villages round and about frequently use our library and other facilities. The youth centre in Barton attracts youngsters from a wide area including villages like Rangemore, Alrewas, Yoxall, King's Bromley and even Walton which is in South Derbyshire. The John Taylor Senior School receives children from all of these villages. I am personally involved in two projects which involve people from the village settlements around here. One is the Skateboard Project which involves the Ward Action Service Plan, the County Council and groups from several of the local villages. Another is the Community Education Project where we are trying to get the local community to identify what we will need and then to work together with Burton College to provide what is needed. There is no attempt to limit this to Barton or the wider Burton area because we know very well that people, for example, in Alrewas would be interested and want to be involved in those community education projects. For that reason we advertise these activities via children in our local schools and they come from all over the area.


I realise that these proposals will not affect our parliamentary boundary until the General Election after next. I confirm, also, that I find the Boundary Commission's draft proposals acceptable. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Do you have any questions, Mr Pratt? MR PRATT: You are a member of Barton-under-Needwood Parish Council. I do not know if you have managed to see the letter from the parish council of 31 May but you are aware, are you, that the parish council objects most strongly to the proposals to include the parish in the Lichfield constituency? CLLR WALKER: I am aware of that, yes. It was a democratic decision. MR PRATT: If it was possible within the rules of the Commission to continue to include Needwood in the Burton constituency, you would not object, it is just that you think because of numbers it has to move? If it was possible within the rules you would not object? CLLR WALKER: Personally I would be very happy to carry on having Janet Dean as my MP. I just understand because of the numbers not to break up any community it is an ideal move. As I have said there are so many reasons why, it is difficult to see which are most closely identified in terms of shopping, leisure, and transport issues. MR PRATT: Nothing further. MRS PUNYER: Would you agree that anyone involved and active within the community has a responsibility to encourage people to go and vote? CLLR WALKER: Yes, I do encourage people to go and vote. MRS PUNYER: Do you agree that place and affinity to a constituency is often a factor in encouraging people to go and vote? CLLR WALKER: It can be. MRS PUNYER: Would you agree, and I think you have said it, that there are very strong views within Barton, and certainly in Tatenhill that their affinity is with Burton constituency? CLLR WALKER: I would not necessarily agree with that. Certainly Barton Parish Council does not always concur with some of the work that Janet Dean does. I think perhaps that Barton Parish Council's view might not necessarily completely represent ---MRS PUNYER: I was not suggesting the parish council, I was suggesting the village itself which is an entity. CLLR WALKER: You are suggesting what? MRS PUNYER: I am saying that the people of Barton have a very strong affinity with Burton.


CLLR WALKER: I would say they have an affinity with Burton because of a lot of the history but similarly, as I have said, there are many, many links which are equally strong with Lichfield. I myself have just completed a professional diploma course and it was through Lichfield and Tamworth College that I completed that course. Because lots of the people who live in all of the villages have been through John Taylor High School many of them have stayed in the area and we use the same pubs. I am as likely to go and spend my leisure time in a public house in Alrewas as I am in Burton-upon-Trent, certainly, and similarly people from those areas come to Barton. MRS PUNYER: I think if you went up Barton High Street and knocked on any door, most of the people behind them would say they would shop in a Burton supermarket rather than going all the way to Lichfield. CLLR WALKER: I would not suggest that they would necessarily go all the way to Lichfield but certainly since we have lost our local butcher I know that many people go to the Yoxall butcher and many people go to the Yoxall hardware store and I myself because I am often in Lichfield doing my education course, call at the Tesco's on the mini island to do my shopping on the way home. I think that assumption is probably a bit strong. MRS PUNYER: I think the problem that you are referring to is the decline of village communities, which perhaps is not a question for today. CLLR WALKER: Possibly not but if you have been in Barton at all in the last few weeks. There is the scarecrow making this weekend and there is a very strong local community link. We operate our local gala which has close links with the King's Bromley Show and all of those community agricultural shows. MRS PUNYER: What I would put to you, however, is when I was fighting the parliamentary seat for Burton last year as a resident of King's Bromley, a village that you say has a very close affinity with Barton, I would suggest to you that there were political opponents of mine who were suggesting that King's Bromley was somewhere to the left of Jupiter, how could I possibly class myself as a local and King's Bromley had absolutely no affinity whatsoever with Barton. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Mrs Walker. Any other questions? (No response) Thank you very much. MR MARTIN: Councillor Leslie Ashley. CLLR ASHLEY: My name is Councillor Leslie Jeffrey Ashley of 5, Dual Way, Huntington, Cannock, Staffordshire. I have lived in the village of Huntington in the district of South Staffordshire for 30 years, have been a Parish Councillor for 28 years and a District Councillor for 11 years. I am also a Governor of Huntington County Primary School and a member of other parish organisations. I strongly advocate that the Boundary Commission consider at its review in June 2002 transferring the parish of Huntington from Cannock Chase constituency and, together with the


parish of Hatherton, into the Stafford constituency with consequently the transfer of Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley back into the South Staffordshire constituency. It is accepted that the transfer of the parish of Huntington from the Cannock Chase constituency is logical in terms of the constituency then being coterminous with Cannock Chase District Council and having the appropriate electoral numbers. At the next South Staffordshire District Council elections in May 2003 the parishes of Huntington and Hatherton will form one ward with two members. The reasons for the above proposed adjustments are as follows: (1) Geography. An examination of a constituency map of the recommendations I have made will show a much more compact and rounded boundary of Stafford constituency. This will facilitate, for Huntington and Hatherton residents, easier access to the county town where the Member of Parliament is likely to be based. Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley residents in South Staffordshire constituency would not be as adversely affected with their access to a Member of Parliament based in Codsall. (2) The democratic process. The village of Penkridge, adjacent to Huntington, is already within the Stafford constituency; Huntington is part of the Penkridge County Council seat. Although Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley are also in the same county division, cognisance should be noted that Penkridge, Huntington and Hatherton might well be a building block for a new county council seat at the next county council boundary review. (3) Access to a Member of Parliament. It is considered important for residents to have as easy as is possible personal access to their Member of Parliament. There is no direct public transport for Huntington, Hatherton residents to a Member of Parliament's office in Codsall some 12 miles away where the present incumbent is based. Whereas Huntington residents have direct bus services to Stafford only seven miles away, it is not quite as convenient for Hatherton residents. Stafford is also a popular location for shopping, employment, higher education establishments and entertainment for villagers. (4) The electoral roll. In 2004 it is anticipated there will be 3,489 electors in the Huntington, Hatherton ward. It is anticipated there will be 3,544 electors in the Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley ward. Consequently, there will only be marginal differences to the Boundary Commission's provisional recommendations as far as total electorates in both South Staffordshire constituency and Stafford constituency. Huntington Parish Council unanimously recommended that Huntington be transferred into the Stafford constituency at its meeting held on 9 May 2002. Taking into account the parish of Huntington was moved into the Cannock Chase constituency for the 1997 General Election, and it will undoubtedly be moved once more to another constituency, residents should be able to look forward to some stability of parliamentary representation for the future and I recommend to the Commissioner the above proposal which would achieve that objective. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much, Mr Ashley. Mr Pratt?


MR PRATT: If Huntington was put into South Staffordshire, why would that not have stability? Would they not have stability in terms of being in the South Staffordshire parliamentary constituency? CLLR ASHLEY: Stability is only one aspect of the case I have put forward. I think overall in the case I have put forward for the residents of Huntington and Hatherton, Stafford would be the best location. MR PRATT: In terms of stability, what about the stability of the people of Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley who are currently in the Stafford constituency? CLLR ASHLEY: Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley were also in South Staffordshire prior to 1997 and, in fact, they have a much greater affinity with the South Staffordshire constituency because of their particular rural make-up, it is a much larger rural area. I have a feeling, although the local member does not agree, that the majority of residents in those three parishes would much rather be in South Staffordshire than in Stafford. MR PRATT: But the people in Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley have close links to Penkridge, do they not? CLLR ASHLEY: They have some links, of course they do, as do Huntington. MR PRATT: Would you say that the links of Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley to Penkridge are greater than those of Huntington? CLLR ASHLEY: No, I would not. MR PRATT: Is there a direct A or B road that goes from Huntington to Penkridge? CLLR ASHLEY: Yes, there is what is called the Pillaton Old Hall Road which is a direct link into Penkridge. Incidentally, that is where the local leisure centre is based which Huntington people use, as is the weekly market in Penkridge which many Huntington people visit and it is quite easy access to get there. MR PRATT: But you accept that in terms of Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley they also use the market in Penkridge and use the same facilities in Penkridge that you have talked about? CLLR ASHLEY: I have no doubt that they do but their connection from a parliamentary constituency point of view I believe is much closer to Codsall where the member is usually based. MR PRATT: In terms of Hatherton, Hatherton is currently in the South Staffordshire parliamentary constituency, is it not? CLLR ASHLEY: It is.


MR PRATT: And in terms of the county council electoral divisions we have talked about, it is linked with the county council electoral division of Cheslyn Hay, is it not? CLLR ASHLEY: It is. MR PRATT: So, in fact, Hatherton has already close connections with South Staffordshire and Cheslyn Hay, has it not? CLLR ASHLEY: It has links, as you point out, with the county council seat at the present time but that is for review in future because the Penkridge seat has a massive electorate of some 15,000 votes and that is due for reconsideration. I think one has to look a little bit further ahead perhaps from this Boundary Commission. MR PRATT: But none of us can speculate on what those divisions will be, they are subject to what the Boundary Commission may do. I do not think we can speculate as you have tried to do, there may be all sorts of solutions that the Boundary Commission may raise. CLLR ASHLEY: I am trying to look at it on a logical basis. MR PRATT: Is not the effect of what you are proposing to do that whereas under the Boundary Commission's proposals obviously the people of Huntington would move parliamentary constituency, the effect of what you are doing is you are having not minimum disruption but maximum disruption because in addition to the people of Huntington who will have to move, the people of Hatherton will have to move and the people from Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley would have to move. You are causing much more disruption to the electors than is the Boundary Commission, are you not? CLLR ASHLEY: There will be more disruption. The point you make is quite true but I would suggest that it is perhaps for only a relatively short time since the three parishes have been moved from South Staffordshire into Stafford as Huntington was moved from South Staffordshire into Cannock. I think it is unfortunate they did not get it right at that election and that is the reason I am suggesting that Huntington will have more stability in Stafford. MR PRATT: You say you are a Governor of Huntington County Primary School. The secondary school pupils in Huntington go mostly to Cannock Chase? CLLR ASHLEY: Indeed. MR PRATT: That compares with the secondary school pupils in Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley who actually go to a secondary school in Penkridge, do they not? CLLR ASHLEY: That is true but we are talking about parliamentary constituency boundaries rather than local education authority boundaries. Do not forget that we do not want to move anyone but we do accept the inevitability of it. I cannot see a problem with any MP dealing with educational matters no matter where the particularly boundaries cross. MR PRATT: What you are saying really is that Huntington's ties are actually with Cannock where you are currently, those are your strongest ties with Cannock Chase?


CLLR ASHLEY: I would agree. MR PRATT: No further questions. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin? MR MARTIN: Councillor Ashley, could you give us some indication of the nature of Huntington and Hatherton? Is it a rural area? Are parts of it fairly built up? What was the industry or the main employment in the past? CLLR ASHLEY: In Huntington itself in the past there was a large coal mine there which employed up to 2,000 men which closed in 1993. The nature of employment within the village has changed drastically in the last ten years. MR MARTIN: So Huntington is not a country village, it is a fairly urban area albeit within a small area, is that correct? CLLR ASHLEY: The village itself is fairly compact. MR MARTIN: And Hatherton is more a rural area? CLLR ASHLEY: It is indeed. MR MARTIN: Thank you, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Are there any other questions? (No response) Thank you very much. Mr Martin, who do you want to call next? MR MARTIN: Tony Wright, the MP for Cannock Chase, cannot be with us either today or tomorrow but his representative, Susan Woodward, is here and she can read out and answer questions on his behalf, within reason obviously. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: You have got three others on your list. MR MARTIN: I do not think anybody else is present today. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: You will be holding over three on this list until tomorrow? MR MARTIN: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Who do you want to call? MR MARTIN: Her name is Susan Woodward and Dr Wright's submission is numbered seven. MRS WOODWARD (Political Assistant to Dr Tony Wright MP): My name is Susan Woodward and I am here to represent Tony Wright who is the Member of Parliament for


Cannock Chase based at 6a Hallcourt Crescent, Cannock in Staffordshire. These are Dr Wright's words, you accept, Mr Dalziel, I am sure, not my own. "I had intended to present my submission in person to the Inquiry but I am unable to attend because of parliamentary duties and apologise for my absence. "I refer to my written submission dated 14 March 2002 in which I acknowledge the merit of the proposal for Cannock Chase, both because of the shared boundary with the local authority area and because of bringing numbers into line. But for numbers, I would be making a case for Huntington to remain in the Cannock Chase constituency as part of its natural community, a case accepted in the previous review. Indeed, I am sorry at the prospect of losing Huntington because I have developed a close working relationship with its representatives and residents. "If Huntington is not to remain in Cannock Chase (as it cannot on numbers grounds), then I share the view that it should become part of Stafford constituency. It might be thought best that Huntington should join with South Staffs, along district council lines, but its natural community lies elsewhere; with either Cannock (as accepted previously) or Stafford. This is clearly a view shared by Huntington councillors. The village straddles the A34 Cannock to Stafford Road and its residents travel either to Cannock or Stafford for work, shopping, leisure and education. It has no community ties or real affinity with a constituency that reaches down to the Worcestershire border. If not in Cannock Chase, Huntington must be allowed to join with Stafford and I trust that the views expressed by its residents and representatives during this and the previous review will be taken fully into account." THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. In the circumstances, I do not think there is any point in raising questions. MR PRATT: No. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Right. Well, Mr Martin, would it be convenient for you to outline or take me through the submissions on behalf of the Labour Party? MR MARTIN: Yes, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: There are no more witnesses for today. I have before me a list of five people who would like to speak tomorrow, members of the public, I have 11 Conservative Party witnesses yet to be called as I understand it and on the Labour Party list we have three more. On that basis it does look very much - even allowing for submissions and what have you - as if we will finish up tomorrow. Are both parties in agreement on that? MR PRATT: Certainly I would hope that would be the case, sir. There are quite a lot of submissions to come. I would be delighted to finish tomorrow if possible. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Mr Martin, I have been handed a note that Mr Adrian Bailey cannot attend tomorrow. In those circumstances I am anxious that if people have bothered to come today they should be heard. MR MARTIN: Yes, sir.


THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Shall we take Mr Bailey's submissions and if necessary, depending on the time, it may be, Mr Martin, we will hear you tomorrow first thing. MR MARTIN: Yes, I am more than happy with that. Anybody who is here today should clearly be heard. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Thank you very much. Mr Bailey, I have just been handed your statement of today's date with a plan annexed to it, is that correct? MR BAILEY: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I will switch off. Over to you. If you could announce yourself and take us through your submission. MR BAILEY: My name is Adrian Bailey. I was born in Congleton and I live in Macclesfield so I crave your indulgence. I shall read my submission first and then make one or two comments. Is that okay? THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Yes. MR BAILEY: In order to produce an accurate result at a General Election constituencies must (a) be drawn up by an independent non-political organisation and (b) be as equal in size as possible (i) nationally and (ii) locally. In the UK we have non-political bodies to decide boundaries but equality of constituency size is not always taken seriously as an issue. Undoubtedly other factors are important in the review process, but equality of constituency size is vital if a just result to an election is to be guaranteed. Exact equality is of course unattainable and is statistically unnecessary. A maximum variation of plus or minus 10% from the average is probably enough to ensure a fair result. In certain circumstances it is almost unavoidable that a constituency will fall outside these limits, but these circumstances do not apply to Stoke-on-Trent North, whose electorate is over 10% below the national average. There are other more personal reasons why electorates should be kept as equal as possible. Firstly, the vote of a constituent in a seat with a large electorate is worth less than the vote of a constituent in a seat with a small electorate. Secondly, constituents in seats with large electorates have less time with their MP than constituents in seats with small electorates. What is more, because voting trends are strongly correlated with population trends, the distribution of large and small seats within a review area should be random. In Staffordshire this is clearly not the case. Constituencies should wherever possible (a) be contiguous with local authority areas, (b) bring together places which have ties and (c) keep communities together. The last of those is easier than the second which in turn is easier than the first. There are very few occasions where communities have to be divided, and where a review has divided them the next review should try to reunite them. Sometimes a review brings together places which have little in common. The following review should consider whether those arrangements can be altered. Contiguity with


local authority areas rather depends on whether those areas are similar in size to the average constituency. Finally "attachment" to an MP is not a factor that can be taken into consideration, although no change should be made for change's sake. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Before we go on to your criticisms, Mr Bailey, you were setting out a number of fairly evident things which are matters of law which are binding on this Commission and binding on me. You object in general but they have got it broadly right. You come from where is it, Macclesfield? MR BAILEY: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: To tell us how to reorganise this county. What is your authority or qualification for doing so? Are you a student or a graduate? MR BAILEY: No, I am just someone who is interested in the subject, sir. I am a student of this subject but only a layman. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: You are an enthusiastic amateur. MR BAILEY: Exactly. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Who is hoping to come forward with some better solutions than the rest of us have managed so far. MR BAILEY: To put my little bit into the pot, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: pennyworth in. All right. You go ahead and put your two

MR BAILEY: Sir, my criticisms. Firstly, under the proposals from the Commission, a vote in North Staffordshire is worth more than a vote in the south of the county. In 2000 the six northern seats had an average electorate of 65,510, while the six southern seats had an average of 70,120. In the last two years that disparity has grown and it will grow further it is my contention. The electorate of Stoke-on-Trent North is over 10% below the national average. The electorate of Stoke-on-Trent Central is also low. The Shenstone area belongs in a Lichfield constituency. The Gnosall area belongs in a Stafford constituency. The Needwood Forest area belongs in a Burton constituency. Cellarhead belongs in the same constituency as Werrington. Madeley belongs in a Newcastle constituency The Staffordshire Moorlands constituency is inappropriately named since its boundary is significantly different from that of the local authority. All the items are dealt with in the counter-proposal. I will read the introduction to the counter-proposal but I will not read it out in detail. In order to address the above criticisms I counter-propose firstly removing the Uttoxeter area from the Burton constituency. This will allow similar-sized electorates throughout the county and secondly include Kidsgrove in Stoke North and Werrington-Cellarhead in Stoke Central.


These major changes make other changes necessary, the most significant being the transfer of Cheadle from Stone to Leek and the transfer of Norton Canes from Cannock to Lichfield. The counter-proposal has the following points in its favour. North Staffordshire's electoral advantage is removed. Stoke's seats are more reasonably sized. The difference between the highest and lowest electorates is 6,052, compared with 9,956 under the Commission's proposals. Staffordshire Moorlands constituency includes Cheadle and is more like the district of the same name. Madeley is with Newcastle. Kidsgrove is kept intact and included in a seat with Tunstall and Burslem, with which it has better connections than with Leek. Cellarhead and Werrington are not divided and are with Hanley which they are better connected with than they are with Tunstall and Burslem. The rural area north of Stafford is not divided between seats. Needwood Forest is with Burton. The form of almost all seats is better. The issues which I laid out at the beginning which I did not deal with are dealt with in the variation section, which I do not necessarily need to read out. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: No. I do not think you do necessarily need to read them out. You have set them out and all parties have a copy of them. MR BAILEY: My conclusion is that the counter-proposal contains considerably more changes to constituencies than are necessary under the rules of the review but it commends itself as more equitable and more durable than the Commission's proposal. Thank you. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I am sure we are all very grateful to you, Mr Bailey, for taking the trouble to do this work as an enthusiastic amateur and give us the benefit of your ideas. Does anyone have any questions for Mr Bailey? (No response) Thank you very much for coming along. Right. We have got 15 minutes, Mr Martin, is that convenient to you? If it is we will begin, if it is not we will break now. MR MARTIN: Yes, sir, I am content to make progress. Sir, the background to the review, I would invite you to look back - it has been raised by some of the witnesses - to the last review ten years ago. Sir, on that occasion, you will know that the number of seats increased from 11 to 12. Sir, on that occasion it was inevitable that wholesale changes would need to be made. On that occasion, sir, questions of geography, community ties, transport, communication and the like were obviously examined. The Commission faced the same problem then that it does today in that the shape of the county has not changed. There are urban concentrations in the county, a lot of them are placed near the boundaries of the county: Burton, Tamworth, Cannock in the south, the Potteries and Kidsgrove in the north. Sir, it is inevitable that the ripples in the pond argument applies with a vengeance in Staffordshire, if you take one thing away from somewhere else, it does work its way all the way through to constituencies some distance from that original one. Sir, the Labour Party says that the review which took place then was a thorough review when those considerations took place and that in the main it was got right then. Today we would


say in the main you are going to be looking at numbers with a view to ensuring democracy. There is no shame in that, indeed that is part and parcel of the job of the Commission. The issues of Werrington and Hatherton and Huntington are questions in point. We have obviously welcomed the views that have been submitted from people affected by the proposed changes by the Boundary Commission. Sir, we are anxious, and I am sure you are aware, that of course ten years ago when proposals were made, for example, that Kidsgrove be split, it would not be difficult to imagine that there are witnesses and a number of submissions, some of which you will hear tomorrow in any event, about the desirability of that as a consideration. In reality, sir, the sense of passion and the feelings that you have heard would often be reflected in any changes that were proposed. The mere fact that you have not heard people passionately arguing for a retention of the status quo does not obviously mean that those people would not come forward if those proposals were made. Of course I accept, sir, that doing a review you are only likely to hold one and that is why I say it is important that you take that into account. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I quite agree with you but if you want an example of how hopefully the system works, it was a Labour Party counter-proposal, it was not in any Boundary Commission's proposal, the Labour Party made a counter-proposal in relation to Whittington and in the last ten days the Commission has been inundated with protests against that counter-proposal from people within Whittington. The Conservative Party counter-proposal, the Liberal Democrat counter-proposal, indeed the whole tenor of the objections within Staffordshire Moorlands, has not been just "do not go here" but "there are alternatives, for example, expanding towards Kidsgrove", as happened at the last inquiry. We have had evidence from a lady with 15 years within the Kidsgrove area today. All I can say is I do not feel able to infer that there is the same strength of feeling that there clearly is in Whittington in the Kidsgrove area, both because of the political history in the sense of which constituencies that area has been in, the proposals originally of the Commission last time and any response to the counter-proposals here. I am only mentioning that because I do not want you to think that I am accepting by silence what you are saying. I know that we have got a couple of witnesses from Kidsgrove tomorrow, to whom I shall listen very carefully, but beyond that nothing is taken as read. MR MARTIN: I hear what you say, sir. The position as far as Kidsgrove is concerned is that it is not just one ward, it is the whole community. I think both the witnesses you heard today described it as a community and nobody, in my submission, has effectively put forward substantive grounds for saying that it should be split to the extent that there are viable alternatives when you look at the overall picture. In any event Werrington is one example of the question of moving matters that the Boundary Commission itself proposed and Huntington is the other. Both of those, if they are to find a home, in my submission move towards in one case Stafford and in one Stoke North. I can take you through the typed submissions that we have handed in, sir. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I am looking at ---- First of all, there is a preliminary point, if you like, or a point that Mr Pratt is going to make which you may care to address me about which is a point of principle. You acknowledge and accept the Commission's discretion to go outside unitary authorities and to be flexible in relation to constituencies despite the fact that Stoke is now a unitary authority?


MR MARTIN: Yes, and I say no more about that. If necessary I will perhaps come back if the argument is advanced at length but clearly it is a legal argument that is probably as clear on paper as it is read out orally. If you accept that contention, then the preliminary proposals make sense. Perhaps it is right that I move on then to 4.1 in our submissions. Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire Moorlands. The point we would make there is when you look at the constituency as it is presently formed it is not, we would submit, a David and Goliath situation or a chalk and cheese situation ---THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: I am sorry, you say the constituency, can you be specific? MR MARTIN: Stoke-on-Trent North as it now stands since the last review which is described effectively as Stoke-on-Trent, the area within the unitary authority and the two wards that were in Staffordshire Moorlands. We would say if you look at it now since the last election, it is not actually right to look at it as a Stoke-on-Trent North with part of the Moorlands tacked on to it, it is a constituency as a whole. There are many other constituencies like that in the country where there is an urban concentration and a more rural area but, in fact, quite a lot of the area as it now stands is rural or open spaces. We would say that is perfectly normal and proper and part of the exercise. There is no rule or requirement that constituencies be either purely urban or purely rural. Clearly in the rest of Staffordshire there is a mixture of built up areas and rural areas. There is no reason why the district of Staffordshire Moorlands should not co-exist with other areas from the unitary area, as they have done for the last five years. The essence of the argument is further backed up by the fact that the Moorlands area itself could not support or would be far too big for one seat. It has already lost parts of its district. You have heard from the witnesses already, and there may be some that you will hear tomorrow, showing that effectively those areas in Werrington and in the Brown Edge, Endon area, clearly have communities and in my submission communities which are not in reality in such conflict with other parts of the constituency that representation by one Member of Parliament is impossible. So we would say that you are entitled to look at the way that things have gone in the last five years to see whether, in fact, something has gone wrong with the democratic process. It is perhaps appropriate that I read out what is written down so that it forms part of the record. We fully support the proposals for the Stoke-on-Trent borough constituency and the Stoke-on-Trent South borough constituency. Both represent the minimum change option and will be readily understandable to electors. We note in particular the comments of the City Council which refer to the historic towns within Stoke-on-Trent and their relationship with the different constituencies. We note that the existing Stoke-on-Trent North borough council has only 58,399 electors rising to 59,560 if new wards are allocated to their main constituency. We believe that this needs to be increased and that the provisional recommendations achieve this in the least disruptive way possible.


We note the many objections to the division of the village of Werrington which result from the provisional recommendations, and acknowledge that this is not an ideal solution. However, the village of Werrington as a whole has fewer than 5,000 electors and while ideally the whole parish would be kept together, this is not possible given the new ward boundaries which incorporate part of it with Cellarhead. I can pause there and say you have heard witnesses already and one of the witnesses describing her complaint as the splitting up of Werrington itself rather than the moving of it out of one constituency and into another. We do believe, however, that the existing arrangement whereby Stoke-on-Trent North borough constituency has included the Brown Edge, Endon and Stanley areas from Staffordshire Moorlands district has worked perfectly satisfactorily. These villages, like Werrington, are part of the immediate hinterland of the city and we see no reason why there would be problems integrating additional electors into the constituency. Again, that is part and parcel of what I have said already, that this is not a question of tacking one small ward on to a constituency of an entirely different nature. Adding Werrington would add to the two wards that you were already referred to and which now form part of the constituency as a whole. Clearly it may be the case that Werrington borders on to Stoke-on-Trent Central, that is simply one of those things that is difficult. That particular area with its historic links together, the six towns of the Potteries, has its quotient, as it were. Tacking it on independently to Stoke-on-Trent Central may be a worse solution in reality than adding it on to the areas which it already has in common of Endon and the other parts of the Moorlands wards. We support the Staffordshire Moorlands county constituency as proposed based on the towns of Biddulph, Kidsgrove and Leek. We believe these small towns have many affinities and form the basis of a coherent constituency. We would suggest that in view of the fact that the constituency both extends beyond the Staffordshire Moorlands district and indeed does not include much of the Moorlands proper it might be appropriate to review the name of the constituency. Again, reviewing the name of the seat that is now called Stoke-on-Trent North may itself have some merit. Newcastle-under-Lyme. We fully support the provisional recommendations which retain the existing constituency completely unchanged.

Cannock Chase, South Staffordshire, Stafford and Stone. We note that the electorate of the Cannock Chase district of 70,995 is by itself some 1,061 above the electoral quota and 3,180 above the county average. We therefore believe that it can and should easily sustain a constituency on its own. We believe, however, that Huntington and Hatherton ward has much stronger ties to the Stafford county constituency and the small town of Penkridge than it does to the rest of the South Staffordshire county constituency and we propose that it be included in that constituency.


Sir, when you do your travels around the county and go to that area you will undoubtedly see that it lies close to Cannock Chase. You could not help seeing that. If you drove from Stafford to Cannock Chase you would not notice that you had left Hatherton or Huntington and gone into Cannock, they are completely contemporaneous, there is no doubt about that. The MP and the local area acknowledge, however, that unfortunately the numbers are wrong. You will see that the nature of the area, the housing there, does reflect the history of it as initially a large coal mining village. We say with the nature of that link it is more natural to have it linked with the urban area of Stafford than, in fact, it is to link it with South Staffordshire. South Staffordshire obviously forms a constituency on its own with its panhandle shape which really one cannot do very much to alter. There are bits on the edge which you can and which you cannot. We would simply say that that falls more naturally with Stafford than it does anywhere else and if it has to go anywhere else that is where it should go. We therefore conversely believe that Wheaton Aston, Bishopswood and Lapley ward, which is rural and has much stronger links to the south and fewer with the urban Stafford CC, should be included in South Staffordshire. That obviously would be an alteration but, again, when you drive around that area the area is predominantly rural as you can see from the size of the ward. We believe, also, the inclusion of the Seighford ward in Stafford CC is anomalous as it is divided by the town by the M6. Its ties and affinities are with the neighbouring wards of Church Eaton, Gnosall and Woodseaves and Eccleshall. Sir, I think you have heard everybody there say about that, including the sitting MP, that it is a seat which is clearly a rural seat but it borders with Stafford. The case for that transfer may not be as strong as it is for Huntington. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: as strong. It did not appear from the sitting MP it was quite

MR MARTIN: No, I concede that, sir. I think we can see, sir, there it was described as a rural seat which had much in common with its neighbouring rural seat. There was not, therefore, any suggestion of a lack of community of interest between the two. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: Look, it is five o'clock Mr Martin. Obviously you have come to the end of that particular seat. MR MARTIN: Yes. THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER: That is a convenient moment. We will resume your submissions at ten o'clock tomorrow. MR MARTIN: Thank you, sir. Time noted: 5.01 pm Adjourned until tomorrow at 10.00 am



A AHMAD .................................................................................................................................................... 51, 57, 58, 70 ASHLEY ........................................................................................................................................ 44, 45, 82, 84, 85, 86 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 65, 66, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94 ATKINS ..................................................................................................................18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 B BAILEY ........................................................................................................................................................... 88, 89, 90 C COX ............................................................................................................................................................................. 41 D DAVIS ....................................................................................................................................................... 72, 73, 74, 75 DAY ....................................................................................................................................................................... 24, 26 DEAN .............................................................................................................................................................. 28, 29, 30 E EDGINTON ..................................................................................................................................................... 36, 78, 79 ELLIS............................................................................................................................................................... 64, 65, 66 F FELLOWS ................................................................................................................................................. 75, 76, 77, 78 FINN ...................................................................................................................................................................... 42, 43 FISHER ................................................................................................................................................................ 8, 9, 10 FRYER......................................................................................................................................................................... 37 H HANCHARD ............................................................................................................................................................... 72 HUGHES ............................................................................................................................................................... 52, 53 HUMPHREYS ..................................................................................................................................... 14, 15, 16, 25, 27 J JEBB Cllr .......................................................................................................................................................................... 17 Mr H. ......................................................................................................................................... 41, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51 JENKINS ................................................................................................................................. 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 K KIDNEY .............................................................................................................................................. 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 L LEVITT ................................................................................................................................................................. 70, 71 LOVATT...................................................................................................................................................................... 26 M MARTIN 8, 10, 14, 24, 37, 40, 41, 43, 46, 49, 50, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 78, 79, 82, 86, 87, 88, 90, 91, 92, 94 P PALMER ................................................................................................................................. 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58


PRATT 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 43, 45, 49, 53, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 84, 85, 86, 87 PUNYER.............................................................................................................................................. 30, 36, 37, 81, 82 R RAISTRICK .......................................................................................................................................................... 25, 28 RALPHS .............................................................................................................................................. 66, 68, 69, 70, 71 S SALT ............................................................................................................................................. 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64 STEVENSON ........................................................................................................................................................ 5, 6, 7 T THOMAS ................................................................................................................................................... 14, 27, 40, 41 W WALKER ........................................................................................................................................................ 80, 81, 82 WALLEY ..................................................................................................................... 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 50, 51 WOODWARD ............................................................................................................................................................. 86


To top