Could boundary shake-up leave Ipswich a less marginal seat?
Ipswich’s Labour and Conservative politicians are gearing up for a tussle with the Boundary Commission which could see the constituency’s character change significantly at the next general election.
Boundary changes seem inevitable as the seat needs to increase in population – that means one of the three wards in the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat will almost certainly be absorbed into the town constituency.
Labour want the Whitehouse ward – where the party normally does well – to be included in Ipswich to boost its chances of winning the marginal seat.
However the Conservatives want Castle Hill, one of their safest seats on the borough, to be absorbed into the town constituency.
Ipswich is seen as a key marginal seat – in last year’s general election Conservative Ben Gummer had a majority of 3,733 over Labour.
It is thought that including Castle Hill into the seat would be worth an extra 1,500 votes to a Tory majority – but including Whitehouse could be worth an extra 1,000 votes to Labour.
Proposed changes to constituencies are expected to be published by the Boundary Commission later this year – and the new seats are due to be approved by 2018 in time for the 2020 general election.
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At present the political parties are keeping their powder dry – but submissions are expected to be made to the Boundary Commission once the EU Referendum is over.
Across the country the number of constituencies is to be reduced from 650 to 600, however Suffolk is likely to retain seven seats because the population of the county is growing so fast.
All the Suffolk seats are likely to be more or less the right size except Ipswich, which is slightly too small, and Bury St Edmunds, which is slightly too large.
The effect of this is likely to be that Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is likely to lose one ward in Ipswich and gain a few villages from Bury St Edmunds – possibly communities like Walsham le Willows and Gislingham.
The changes are not expected to change the characters of any other constituency enough to make a difference at election time.
All the seats in Suffolk are currently held by the Conservatives.