1. ITV Report

Last chance to comment on new Westminster constituencies

The men with the maps, Ben Whitestone and Matt Redmond from the Boundary Commission for Wales Photo: Boundary Commission for Wales

The shake up of Welsh parliamentary constituencies was always going to be hugely controversial, not only because it cuts the number of MPs from 40 to 30 but because a tightening of the rules on the number of voters in each seat means traditional and natural boundaries can often no longer be respected.

When the Boundary Commission for Wales published its initial proposals in January, there were particularly loud cries of pain from some areas but the commission says it's pleased that it's received 'constructive' counter proposals.

We are really pleased by the level of responses. They have been mainly positive and certainly constructive. Some have been supportive, some have made counter proposals and some have been about the names that we have suggested for the new constituencies.

– Boundary Commission for Wales Secretary Ben Whitestone

More than 500 hundred people and organisations wrote to the commission and over one hundred people spoke at public hearings. Two of the ideas that people did not like were for new constituencies linked by only by mountain roads, the proposed Caerphilly & Cardiff North and Glyndwr & North Powys. There was also a large postbag from the Cynon Valley, which will be split in three.

Unsurprisingly there was strong support for the commission's proposals from the Vale of Glamorgan where the boundary would hardly change. But the new North Wales Coast seat also got a mostly positive response, although the proposed name proved unpopular.

A large number of villagers in Maenclochog in Pembrokeshire wrote in to argue that they should not be included in the new Ceredigion & North Pembrokeshire, preferring to be in South & West Pembrokeshire. They are exemplary objectors because they have a plan for keeping the number of voters in both seats within the rules.

They suggest adjusting the Carmarthenshire voters added to Pembrokeshire for Westminster purposes. If those voters do not like the idea, they now have four weeks to object -as does everyone else. The boundary commissioners will then have until October 2013 to publish their final conclusions.

The changes will have to be approved at Westminster. The Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan, would also like to see the new seats used in Assembly elections, with extra AMs elected on regional lists to make up for the cut in the number of constituencies. The only alternative she's consulting on is having a separate but equally radical review of Assembly constituencies, so that they too have a more equal number of voters. However, AMs voted yesterday to demand that any change should be a matter for them.