Eileen Armstrong spoke at a Boundary Commission hearing, she was arguing against the current proposal to place Ponteland East and Stannington into a Newcastle Constituency.
I would like to express my concerns over the proposed changes to the borders in my constituency Ponteland East and Stannington as this stands to be an area that would be removed from the Hexham constituency and placed under the new proposed Newcastle upon Tyne North West constituency.
Ponteland East together with Stannington and Whalton has a total shared boundary length of 42.7 miles. Out of that total distance, 32.4 miles border with Northumberland and that is three times more than the 10.3 miles bordering with Newcastle, leaving many residents vastly removed from the area of Newcastle.
The proposed new parliamentary boundary line would split the Town of Ponteland taking with it a strong sense of community spirit from residents –as the majority of Ponteland residents would remain in the Hexham constituency with a Northumberland MP leaving Ponteland East with the reality that neighbouring properties principally in Eastern Way and Edge Hill would be managed under a Newcastle MP. This in its self-breaks local ties.
Conflicting views between MP’s could possibly cause difficulties on neighbouring streets as any Newcastle MP will be challenged to accommodate and satisfy the needs of both urban and rural areas. What is needed is one MP for one area and not set Ponteland East and Stannington apart which are essentially rural areas much in common with Northumberland and not that of urban Newcastle.
Furthermore, schools situation within Ponteland would complicate matters especially as there will be 2 Members of Parliment involved in any possible school issues and as MP’s are predominantly political, this in itself risks party politics being brought to the playground.
Residents of Ponteland East and Stannington living in the rural areas are not offered the same advantages as Newcastle residents as they have less public transport choice, less frequent and more expensive. This would result in those residing in the rural areas being disadvantaged as they may struggle to reach their Member of Parliament who could well be based in a Newcastle upon Tyne.
The metro line for example ends at Newcastle airport whereas it runs the length of Newcastle and reaches into Sunderland.
The links to Hexham are far more accommodating in terms of travel time and expense.
I fear that the priorities for constituents would lie with those already in Newcastle and this jeopardies resident’s needs being addressed if Ponteland East and Stannington are to be added to a predominantly urban area of Newcastle as opposed to where they belong sharing the same concerns as that of rural Northumberland.
Leaving Longhorsley and Rothbury within the Berwick Constituency and Ponteland East with Stannington where they belong within Hexham would be a way forward and a step in the right direction to maintain local ties.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today. Thank you all for your time.