Week in politics: Constituency shake-up, peerage claims & more

Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen. Credit: PA

Our region will be a key battleground at the next general election, but the shape of MPs' constituencies is set to change before then, and this week we got a clearer picture as to how.

In order to ensure seats across the country have more equal populations, the North East is facing a reduction - from 29 to 27 constituencies.

The Boundary Commission for England's task is redrawing the map in the most logical way possible.

They are proposing that one constituency is lost around the North Tyneside and South East Northumberland area, where three seats are set to roughly take up the territory of the four currently.

The big change from their initial round of proposals, after public and political feedback, is the plan now for the North West Durham constituency to be split up.

The current Conservative MP Richard Holden has said he is "completely devastated" and will appeal, but believes it is "pretty final."

The current North West Durham constituency. Credit: Boundary Commission for England
What is now proposed with the North West Durham constituency disappearing. Credit: Boundary Commission for England

Smaller changes are proposed for Teesside and North Yorkshire.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's constituency is set to be renamed as Richmond and Northallerton.

Tony Blair's old seat of Sedgefield is being rejigged and renamed as Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor, to recognise the largest population centres.

There's time for more feedback, before the final plans are confirmed next year.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has played down reports he could enter the House of Lords.

The Times reported on Tuesday that the Conservative mayor is being nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson as part of his resignation honours list.

Mr Houchen said: "This is news to me, as my focus - as ever - is on doing what I can to help the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and I look forward to standing for re-election as Tees Valley Mayor in 2024."

It was less of a surprise to see the Selby and Ainsty Conservative MP Nigel Adams on the reported list.

He is a key ally of the former Prime Minister and has previously announced he is standing down as an MP at the next general election.

Harrogate and Knaresborough Conservative MP Andrew Jones led a brief debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

He is campaigning for the River Nidd at the Lido leisure park in Knaresborough to achieve bathing water status.

In terms of water quality more widely, he said sewage discharges into the UK's waterways are happening "still way too much", and called for better monitoring, enforcement action and investment from water companies.

Environment Minister Trudy Harrison claimed the government is making "excellent progress... in cleaning up our waters" and said they "will continue to take action to require water companies and industry to achieve the necessary improvements to reduce pollution."

Sunderland Central Labour MP Julie Elliott led a debate in Westminster Hall on Wednesday, where she celebrated how there has been "a 43% increase in the economic value of the creative industries in the North East over the last 12 years."

She asked for government support for developing the sector further, and ensuring young people in the region have the skills to be part of it.

Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Minister Julia Lopez said: "the government are committed to supporting creative businesses" and pointed to the recent announcement of £1.28m funding for the North East to help creative firms grow.

The Autumn Statement on Thursday will be the focus of the coming week at Westminster, with a combination of public spending cuts and tax rises likely as Rishi Sunak and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt try to balance the books.

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