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Boundary Commission Hearing

Andrew Mitchell addresses the Boundary Commission Hearing in Birmingham on the future of the Sutton Coldfield parliamentary constituency.

On 3 November Sutton’s MP Andrew Mitchell addressed the Boundary Commission Hearing, held in Birmingham to discuss the future of parliamentary constituencies throughout the West Midlands.

The review across the United Kingdom is designed to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600 and to even out the number of constituents in each constituency.

The decision in respect of Sutton Coldfield is that the boundaries of the current parliamentary constituency shall remain precisely as they are, and Andrew Mitchell welcomed this – especially in light of the fact that the previous Boundary Commission had started by wanting to dismember the Sutton Coldfield constituency but had, in the face of public anger in Sutton Coldfield – the constituency which complained the most of any constituency in Britain, decided to leave the boundaries as they were.

Andrew Mitchell thanked the Boundary Commission for hearing the voice of the people of Sutton Coldfield and leaving the boundaries unchanged in their preliminary conclusions.

However, Andrew Mitchell asked that the Boundary Commission rename his constituency Royal Sutton Coldfield following the recent decision by the Government that Sutton could reassert its Royal title, and the unanimous view of the recently elected Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council.

His remarks are attached.

Remarks made by Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Sutton Coldfield, at Boundary Commission Hearing, 3 November 2016

I am very grateful for the opportunity to address the Boundary Commission.
The first point I wish to make is that we are all very pleased that the Boundary Commission proposes no change in the boundaries of the Parliamentary constituency.

I hope and believe that members of the Commission will know this to be true given the very strong feelings that were aired by my constituents on a previous occasion when the Boundary Commission did decide to carve up Sutton Coldfield.

On that occasion I understand that the Boundary Commission received more adverse comments from the Royal Town in emails, letters and other representations than from any other constituency in the country. The view was strongly against any change to the Royal Town’s ancient boundaries and that they remain as they are. Nor was this a minority view but is a view held, as I understand it, by all 24 members of our recently elected Town Council as well as the 12 elected Councillors who represent us on Birmingham City Council - of all Parties.

I would, therefore, like to thank the Boundary Commission for hearing loud and clear the wishes of my constituents in leaving our boundaries unaltered. Obviously the Commission had in mind that we are almost exactly the size that they wish to see in Parliamentary constituencies following this review.

However, I do have a request which is equally strongly felt throughout our town and that affects the name of my constituency.

Recently, after a considerable campaign endorsed by many different entities that make up our Royal Town, we have successfully reasserted our royal title. In a Debate in the House of Commons on 12 June 2014, of which I have brought the Commission a copy of Hansard, the Government confirmed that:

“There being no statutory ban, I am not surprised that my Rt Hon Friend and his constituents should wish to use the title. In other words, I am pleased to be able to confirm today to him and his constituents that there is no statutory prohibition on the use of this historic title. I can, therefore, confirm also that there is nothing to prevent the people of Sutton Coldfield making use of their historic royal title.”

The only towns enjoying the accolade of Royal in England are Leamington Spa, Tunbridge Wells and Sutton Coldfield. More recently Wootton Bassett has been created a Royal town for sad but noble reasons of which the Commission’s members will be aware. There are in addition four local authorities who are able to describe themselves as Royal and one county, Berkshire, although Berkshire County Council has not existed since 1998.

In terms of Parliamentary constituencies only one has had the title Royal in its name, Royal Tunbridge Wells, which had the name from 1974 – 1983. The word was removed following the Third Periodical Review implemented in 1983. The Boundary Commission reported that the decision to remove the word ‘Royal’ from the constituency name was to reflect the name of the new Borough as constituted after the Local Government Reforms of 1974. Of great importance is that according to the Commission, and in view of the change in geography, there was no objection to this in the local enquiry held in Kent.

In Royal Sutton Coldfield we are in a very different position. As from May this year we have 24 Town Councillors elected to what is the largest Town Council in Britain, which covers precisely the geography of the parliamentary constituency. It is important to note that this is not called Sutton Coldfield Town Council but is designated as the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council. It is the wish of all of us that the title we have is proudly represented in the constituency name. I, therefore, ask that the Boundary Commission agree that henceforth the Parliamentary constituency should be named as Royal Sutton Coldfield.

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