Wellingborough area villagers with 'nothing in common' with South Northants urged to object to boundary changes

People can go online to have their say on the proposed changes by the Boundary Commission for England

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 4:12 pm

A parish council that has traditionally looked to Wellingborough for administration, education, retail, leisure and transport as well as their MP has urged residents to object to proposed boundary commission changes.

The changes could see Wollaston, Grendon, Bozeat, Easton Maudit and Strixton - all part of the North Northants Council area - potentially becoming part of South Northamptonshire's electorate.

Constituents eager to meet their MP at the South Northamptonshire MP's office - current incumbent Dame Andrea Leadsom - would face an approximate 35-minute drive negotiating the A45 and A43 to Towcester, rather than the current 16-minute, six-mile drive to Peter Bone's town centre office.

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The boundary changes could affect five Wellingborough villages

Brian Skittrall, chairman of Bozeat Parish Council, said: "We're a quiet community until you poke the hornets' nest.

"We were shocked to discover almost by chance that the recent Boundary Commission proposals would move our village from the Wellingborough constituency into the South Northamptonshire constituency.

"Our village has a long and deep connection to Wellingborough whereas we have no connection to the South Northamptonshire constituency.

"We want to stay in the Wellingborough constituency where we have always been - we look to Wellingborough. Bozeat has nothing in common with the rest of the proposed constituency – all of which is in the West Northamptonshire Council area."

The proposal could see Bozeat, Wollaston, Strixton, Easton Maudit and Grendon being represented in parliament by an MP with their office in Towcester

The Boundary Commission proposals were announced in June with changes to Wellingborough, Corby and East Northants and Kettering's constituencies. It is not the first time that the village has been subject to change, with plans dropped in 2018 to change the number of MPs that affected the village.

Bozeat has deep-seated connections to Wellingborough with many residents representing wards on Wellingborough Council and since 2000 producing five borough mayors.

The parish council has written an official objection to the Boundary Commission for England, citing five major reasons including transport links not connecting to South Northants, local government boundaries, and ties within the Wellingborough village communities.

It said: "We feel it would be both illogical and unjustifiable for Bozeat and our neighbouring villages of Easton Maudit, Wollaston, Grendon and Strixton to be moved into this constituency.

"The public transport for Bozeat only readily connects to Wellingborough with a lesser service to Northampton. To access Towcester (the constituency office of the South Northamptonshire constituency) it is necessary to change busses at least once and the journey takes, at best, two hours and as much as three hours with the last bus from Towcester back to Bozeat leaving before 4pm.

"The current proposal bisects the Irchester ward of North Northamptonshire Council and moves Bozeat and the other four villages into the South Northamptonshire constituency. If this happens our villages will be the only part of the South Northamptonshire constituency that is not governed by West Northamptonshire Council."

Mr Skittrall is very concerned that any South Northamptonshire MP dealing with problems raised by North Northants Council area residents would be at a disadvantage.

He said: "There's no commonality. We just happen to be next to it on a map. MPs often develop relationships within a community and their constituents. With the odd case that Andrea (Leadsom MP) would have to deal with, she would be talking to a completely different set of officials - the council, the police, the hospital."

The parish council official objection concludes: "... Bozeat and the four other villages do not meet the criteria to be suitable to be moved into the South Northamptonshire constituency. Although it is physically adjacent to the existing South Northamptonshire constituency it does not have transport routes to make it accessible and it would be an outlier in terms of present and historic local government administration as well as the structures of the police, NHS and rail providers.

"It is clear that it would not be in the best interests of Bozeat to be represented by an MP where the issues of our small fragment of North Northamptonshire are entirely different to the issues of the rest of their constituency. We request therefore that Bozeat should not be moved into the South Northamptonshire constituency but remain attached to the Wellingborough constituency."

Mr Skittrall added: "We want the people to make it known how illogical this is."

Constituents can have their say on the boundary changes by clicking here at https://www.bcereviews.org.uk/ where you can also find details of the proposals.