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The New Electoral Boundaries in Wales

27 July 2016

As many of you will be aware, we are due to have the first draft of proposals for the new, twenty-nine seat, constituency boundaries in Wales published in September by the Boundary Commission.

The new boundaries proposed will doubtless stir considerable debate, both within and between the parties. What might, and should, they look like?

My friend Harry Hayfield (who is also a frequent contributor to the debate at Political has had a go at this monumental task. A link to a PDF file with his suggestions is here.

I should note that the ‘notional’ results on these new boundaries relate to the 2015 general election, and the computation of these notional results has been all Harry’s work. I should also add that the final slide is Harry’s estimate of the final, notional ‘result’ on these new boundaries: 20 Labour seats, 6 Conservative and 3 Plaid Cymru.

I hope that some people will find these proposals interesting, and that they will stimulate some debate. Happy reading!

PS. (You can follow Harry on Twitter @HarryHayfield)


  1. Dafydd Trystan

    A monumental task indeed and Harry has done sterling work here. I suspect that the Boundary Commission will try and retain some semblance of co-terminosity where possible with the preserved county boundaries, but the margin of only +/- 5% really doesn’t give much flexibility so there will be some very odd seats. Not sure if my friends over the mountain in the Rhondda will enjoy the new Aberdare seat …

  2. Harry Hayfield

    As Dafydd has pointed out, there are a large number of towns in Wales who, even with the best intentions of the Boundary Commission, are going to be furious when they find out they are in a completely different constituency to the one that they’ve been used to for the best part of fifty years, but those are the rules laid down. Wales has to lose 11 seats and the majority of those seats have to be in the South Wales Valleys with Mid Wales also bearing the brunt (hence the rather strange, but viable suggestion of Denbighshire, Montgomeryshire and Ceredigion North)

    • Elwyn vaughan

      From Borth to Denbigh is a non starter. Dyfi valley better with Sth Gwynedd and perhaps Nant Conwy with South Clwyd based on the old Clwyd West seat that used to exist.Then the rest of Montgomeryshire goes with Sth Powys and is neat within one local authority

  3. marc jones

    I suspect the Denbighshire, Mont and N Ceredigion could be better re-named ‘the remnants’ – hardly any co-terminosity between Denbigh, Borth and Newtown – but an interesting exercise nonetheless.

  4. Chris Saville

    I haven’t looked at the numbers properly, but it feels like the northern constituencies would be generally bigger than the southern ones. Is that to do with the south being more urban, is it a coincidence, or is it something I haven’t considered? I remember reading somewhere that urban constituencies tend to shrink relative to rural ones over time, so would this tend to get worse over time?

    Interesting to see some concrete ideas of what the new constituencies might look like!

    • Harry Hayfield

      The Boundary Commission first suggestions on the new boundaries will be published on September 13th 2016, these are merely suggestions in order to generate debate about the new boundaries

      • Chris Saville

        Oh I understand that they’re not official, I was just interested in whether there was a particular reason for the apparent trend towards more populous northern constituencies because if it is some sort of emergent property of Wales’ geography, it would likely show up in whatever the Boundary Commission come up with too.

  5. Emlyn

    Interesting work, Harry. Diolch. The problem with your suggestion (and no doubt what the Boundary Commissioners are grappling with) is a lack of natural affinity and co-terminocity.
    Carmarthenshire is currently split between 3 seats (out of 40), but you suggest splitting it between 5 seats (out of 29): Brecon Beacons (Gwaun-cae-gurwen to Church Stoke!!!!!!), Cardigan Bay, Carmarthenshire East, Llanelli and the Gower, Pembrokeshire Coast.
    Monmouthshire, on the other hand, gets to stay in 1 seat, and Pembrokeshire remains split between 2.
    I suppose where your starting point is will determine where the remnants fall off, and you have done a better job of Glamorgan/Gwent than the Commissioners did in their first attempt at the 2013 Review.
    Like Elwyn above, I think Borth to Denbigh will be a hard sell, let alone Gwaun-cae-gurwen to Church Stoke. Mam fach, I can hardly imagine the residents of the one place knowing of the other’s existence; they’re so very different!

  6. James

    Has Harry ever been to Wales? Every single one of those constituencies seems to have a curious disregard for some combination of physical geography, administrative boundaries, and existing constituency boundaries – basically all of the statutory criteria for the boundary review apart from the raw numbers. It’s not even forced — I’ve actually tried drawing a map myself, and it’s not that difficult to come up with something much less disturbing than this.

    But to take each constituency as a serious attempt, here are 29 ways in which these 29 constituencies don’t work:
    1) Aberdare. What to do with the Rhondda is one half of the conundrum (the other half being getting Neath and Port Talbot into sensible constituencies) that if answered well will make the rest of Glamorgan just fall into place. Going over the Maerdy Mountain Road is not a sensible answer. That it results in splitting Penrhiwceiber from Mountain Ash makes it all the more awkward.
    2) Anglesey and North West Gwynedd. Merging the current Anglesey and Arfon constituencies, then moving a few wards out is clearly the only workable idea here, but only moving wards out in southern Arfon results in cutting off Caernarfon’s immediate hinterland from the town — in particular, it is a very bad choice to move the Llanberis and Waunfawr wards out. Taking out the Bethesda area would be much better.
    3) Blaenau Gwent and Islwyn. This does not include all of Blaenau Gwent, despite the local authority and current constituency being well under the quota. I do not see what could possibly motivate this, seeing as the part of Caerphilly CB attached splits Crosskeys from Risca and Pontllanfraith from Blackwood.
    4) Brecon Beacons. I don’t know whether people in Kerry would be more annoyed at being in a different constituency from Newtown or at being in a constituency named after a mountain range that’s nowhere near where they live. The ingenious way that he’s managed to not include Newtown is also awful in itself — despite Powys and the North being a good fit for eight constituencies, he’s unnecessarily crossed the border into both Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot, but in such a way as to only take part of NPT’s Swansea Valley section. Ouch.
    5) Bridgend Coast. Something should have been telling Harry he was getting it badly wrong at this point. Built-up areas of both Bridgend and Port Talbot split, two random Vale of Glamorgan wards attached.
    6) Caerphilly. Which includes a sprawling chunk of the Rhymney and Sirhowy valleys, but doesn’t actually include Caerphilly town. Yes, that southernmost ward is Llanbradach.
    7) Cardiff East and Rogerstone. Cardiff is within the electoral range for three constituencies and no crossing of the city boundary is necessary. There may be an argument for keeping the existing cross-boundary Cardiff South and Penarth and creating one more cross-boundary constituency, but Harry has not done this. Instead, he’s got rid of the existing one and created two new ones of his own. And this one is joined together via narrow lanes in Rudry!
    8) Cardiff North. The other neat feature about how the numbers have worked out is that there’s no need to cross the Taff in the city. But here we go across Llandaf Bridge. A Cardiff North that stretches from Cyncoed to Fairwater, but doesn’t include Lisvane.
    9) Cardiff South. A random selection of bits of three existing constituencies, crossing the Taff again.
    10) Cardigan Bay Coast. Ceredigion is under the minimum, so it needs to gain some wards from Carmarthenshire or Pembrokeshire or both. So moving Borth out and needlessly crossing the Powys boundary is just bizarre.
    11) Carmarthenshire East. Which doesn’t actually reach the eastern boundary of Carmarthenshire. If it weren’t for all the awful things this does to its neighbours, this would almost make sense as a constituency, if a poorly named one. Only the inclusion of Llangennech is unsettling. Perhaps this was Harry’s starting point on the map.
    12) Denbighshire, Montgomeryshire and Ceredigion North. This has so many minor flaws, from straying pointlessly into Ceredigion to the weirdness of taking Cefn but not Chirk, that the big flaw almost passes unnoticed. But the real crime is putting Powys necessary border-crossing constituency with the North as one crossing into the North-East rather than the North-West. There are several good A and B roads crossing into Gwynedd. Although Denbighshire touches Powys, there is no road at all directly from Powys to any settlement in Denbighshire; the roads in that corner head for Bala, Gwynedd from both sides. And although Dyffryn Ceiriog, Wrexham’s left panhandle, does have some extremely minor roads over the mountains into Powys, it is best considered a cul-de-sac from Chirk. This sort of proposal is actually likely to arise at some point during the review, as Plaid Cymru try to avoid Meirionnydd and much of Montgomeryshire ending up in the same constituency.
    13) Gwynedd. This splits Conwy community, leaving Conwy town in one constituency and Llandudno Junction and Deganwy in another. In doing so, the Aberconwy constituency is also split.
    14) Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and Rhyl. This actually inflicts a particularly nasty split on the town of Rhyl.
    15) Llanelli and the Gower. Crossing the Loughor is necessitated by the numbers. Crossing the Loughor estuary where there are no bridges is not a particularly sensible way of doing this though.
    16) Llantrisant. Given what adjoins this, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a strange constituency that includes Ely and Caerau in Cardiff and half of Caerphilly town. That it suddenly respects the less-than-ideal current constituency boundary separating Llantrisant and Pontyclun from Llanharry and Llanharan makes its adventure across several local authorities and constituencies all the odder.
    17) Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd. The other compromise in the existing boundaries of the Pontypridd constituency is a split of Pontypridd community. Instead of fixing this, now that larger constituencies are the target, Harry has created a new split, losing the Hawthorn ward. Disrupting the Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney constituency is also a really bad idea: Merthyr and the five Gwent authorities – at the last review treated as a group for eight constituencies – are now within the range for six.
    18) Mold and the Northern Marches. At first glance this looks like an expanded Alyn and Deeside, but strangely it has lost half of Connah’s Quay in the process. And rather than simply expanding at the expense of Delyn, it has disrupted the existing Wrexham constituency as well. Mold is a bad fit for the Deeside/East Flintshire constituency in any event; Flint would be a much more sensible town to transfer to this constituency.
    19) Monmouthshire. This does not include all of Monmouthshire, even though there’s nothing stopping it from doing so. Bizarrely it’s lost a chunk west of Abergavenny, resulting in having to take three wards (rather than two) from Newport to make up numbers.
    20) Neath. Even if this did not continue to include Rhos ward in the Swansea valley, this neatly illustrates the problem of getting both Neath and Port Talbot in sensible constituencies. Trying to squeeze both towns into one constituency doesn’t work nicely, and the result here is that despite having lost Coedffranc community, this only includes half of what is recognizably Port Talbot.
    21) Newport. One of the almost sensible moments. But including Caerleon but not Ringland is strange.
    22) Pembrokeshire Coast. Pembrokeshire is actually over the maximum for one constituency, but because of the weird treatment of Ceredigion earlier resulting in taking too many Pembrokeshire wards, this constituency includes some Carmarthenshire wards.
    23) Pontypool. Not sure why the name change from Torfaen, but the fact is that Torfaen is just under the minimum for one constituency and needs to add a few voters. The obvious thing to do would be take Caerleon from Newport. But instead Harry’s crossed over the mountain north of Blaenafon into Monmouthshire, which is a poor choice of donor authority as well as geographically awkward.
    24) St. Asaph and Deeside. Aside from the awkward splits of Rhyl and Connah’s Quay at either end, there’s something about taking the middle part of the present Vale of Clwyd constituency that just feels like it’s going against the grain.
    25) Swansea Borough. The name suggests that it is possible to have a nice compact constituency in the centre of Swansea, based on the current East, pulling in a few West wards to cover the centre of the city. Unfortunately, this isn’t it. Off it heads east to Coedffranc and north to Pontardawe and the rural Mawr ward.
    26) Swansea East [sic]. There just doesn’t seem to be any particular reason for this collection of wards, stretching from Swansea city centre to Loughor to go together – it’s not great on the ground and it includes parts of all three current Swansea constituencies.
    27) Vale of Glamorgan East. Something like this is forced if one does not cross the Cardiff boundary (or crosses it in entirely new places as Harry has done), but there’s no need to include the Peterston ward, which looks more to Cowbridge than to Barry.
    28) Vale of Glamorgan West and Bridgend Rural. The awful Bridgend split strikes again. Managing to get Cowbridge into the same constituency as the Ogmore and Garw valleys is certainly an achievement, but I wouldn’t be proud of it.
    29) Wrexham. This seems to have started out as an attempt at identifying areas to remove to get the county down to size. But it’s really not worked. The existing Wrexham constituency has been split. And Chirk looks very lonely indeed.

    • Roger Scully

      Harry has lived in Wales for many years. But I think many people have not taken on board how restrictive the new rules will prove to be – and the strange boundaries that they may lead to.

  7. Aled George

    I can only really comment on Powys, but I think the sensible choice would be to start from the southern borders of the local authority and work upwards until the numbers are hit, perhaps moving Machynlleth to a South Gwynedd or Ceredigion constituency and then carving up the rest of Montgomeryshire between different northern ones. The only town in the south of the local authority that is has always seemed out of place is Ystradgynlais and so an argument could be made to leave that out. As a Radnorshire boy it would be sad to lose a reference to Radnor or Radnorshire somewhere in the title, although Powys South is the more obvious name.

  8. Emlyn

    Inspired by Harry’s efforts, I played around with the same idea. Wales’s 2,181,841 electors will be represented by 29 MPs (a quota of 75,236 per seat, within the statutory UK range of 71,031 to 78,507).

    I started by positing five electoral regions, viz.
    Clwyd, Gwynedd and Montgomery: 548,115 (quota 7.29 seats)
    Dyfed, Brecon and Radnor: 323,654 (4.33)
    Glamorgan: 671,634 (8.93)
    Cardiff: 227,878 (3.03)
    Gwent: 410,560 (5.49)

    Now, Cardiff can remain intact with 3 seats (3.03). Gwent can add Merthyr (quota 0.56) to make 6 seats (6.05).
    So, this leaves Glamorgan with a quota of 8.37, giving the county 8 seats and needing to transfer 26,674 electors across the Loughor.
    This will give Dyfed, Brecon and Radnor a quota of 4.70; still short of a 5th seat. So, 21,457 electors will need to be brought from Montgomeryshire into this region.

    In summary, a total of 29 seats, divided as follows:
    Clwyd, Gwynedd and 25,532 Montgomery electors = 7 seats
    Dyfed, Brecon, Radnor, 21,457 Montgomery electors and 26,674 Glamorgan electors = 5 seats
    Glamorgan (minus Merthyr and 26,674 from West Glamorgan) = 8 seats
    Cardiff = 3 seats
    Gwent and Merthyr = 6 seats

    So far, so straightforward. I have worked on the two regions I know best, and give these working examples of the 13 seats:

    Brecon, Radnor and South Montgomery (73,730) – Breconshire, Radnorshire (52,273), and the Blaenhafren (1,782), Caersws (1,712), Churchstoke (1,214), Dolforwyn (1,587), Kerry (1,563), Llandinam (1,063), Llanidloes (2,070), Montgomery (1,059), Newtown Central (2,103), Newtown East (1,301), Newtown Llanllwchaiarn North (1,726), Newtown Llanllwchaiarn West (1,361), Newtown South (1,242) and Rhiwcynon (1,674) EDs of Montgomeryshire.

    Ceredigion, Carmarthen North and Preseli (75,137) – Ceredigion County (50,432), the Cenarth (1,570), Llangeler (2,546), Llanfihangel-ar-Arth (2,098), Llanybydder (1,922), Cynwyl Gaeo (1,260) and Cilycwm (1,145) EDs of Carmarthenshire, and the Cilgerran (1,396), Clydau (1,105), Crymych (1,918), Dinas Cross (1,210), Fishguard North East (1,399), Fishguard North West (1,094), Goodwick (1,335), Maenclochog (2,248), Newport (812) and St Dogmaels (1,647) EDs of Pembrokeshire.

    Pembroke (73,008) – All of Pembrokeshire except the above named EDs.

    Carmarthen (73,791) – The Carmarthenshire EDs of the current Carmarthen West and Carmarthen East CCs except the 10,541 electors from the above named EDs, with the addition of the Pontyberem (2,074), Llannon (3,817) and Tycroes (1,756) EDs of Carmarthenshire.

    Llanelli and Loughor (76,229) – The current Llanelli CC of Carmarthenshire except the Pontyberem (2,074), Llannon (3,817) and Tycroes (1,756) EDs, as well as the Gorseinon (3,228), Kingsbridge (3,299), Llangyfelach (3,803), Lower Loughor (1,734), Mawr (1,305), Penllergaer (2,466), Penyrheol (4,131), Pontarddulais (4,616) and Upper Loughor (2,092) EDs of the City and County of Swansea.

    Gower (72,277) – The Gower (2,828), Penclawdd (2,852), Fairwood (2,218), Bishopston (2,610), Pennard (2,175), Dunvant (3,353), Killay North (1,892), Killay South (1,846), Gowerton (3,862), Cockett (10,125), Sketty (10,294), Mayals (2,060), West Cross (5,023), Newton (2,687), Oystermouth (3,151), Uplands (8,155) and Penderry (7,146) EDs of the City and County of Swansea.

    Swansea (74,985) – The remaining EDs of the City and County of Swansea (67,871), as well as the Coedffranc Central (2,733), Coedffranc North (1,752) and Coedffranc West (2,629) EDs of Neath Port Talbot CB.

    Neath (77,048) – The current Neath CC (54,691), as well as the Briton Ferry East (2,119), Briton Ferry West (1,977), Baglan (5,128), Bryn and Cwmavon (5,018), Cymmer (2,015), Gwynfi (895) and Glyncorrwg (792) EDs of Neath Port Talbot CB, and the Rhigos (1,337) and Hirwaun (3,076) EDs of the Rhondda Cynon Taff CB.

    Aberavon, Kenfig and Garw (77,011) – The Aberavon (3,887), Margam (2,197), Port Talbot (4,052), Sandfields East (4,850), Sandfields West (4,745) and Tai-bach (3,557) EDs of Neath Port Talbot CB, as well as Caerau (4,593), Maesteg East (3,536), Maesteg West (4,185), Llangynwyd (2,330), Aberkenfig (1,692), Cefn Cribwr (1,088), Pyle (5,331), Cornelly (5,101), Nottage (2,750), Rest Bay (1,926), Porthcawl East Central (2,518), Porthcawl West Central (2,775), Bryntirion Laleston and Merthyr Mawr (6,305), Blaengarw (1,260), Bettws (1,536), Llangeinor (846), Pontycymmer (1,648), Sarn (1,748) and Ynysawdre (2,555) EDs of Bridgend CB.

    Bridgend, Brynna and Cowbridge (78,053) – The remaining EDs of Bridgend CB (53,723), as well as St Brides Major (2,097), Llandow Ewenny (2,061), Cowbridge (4,997), Wenvoe (2,122) and Peterston-super-Ely (1,828) EDs of the Vale of Glamorgan CB, and the Brynna (3,264), Gilfach Goch (2,411), Llanharry (2,940) and Llanharan (2,610) EDs of the Rhondda Cynon Taff CB.

    Pontypridd and Rhondda West (77,370) – The current Pontypridd CC (56,525), as well as the Cwm Clydach (1,975), Pentre (3,722), Ystrad (4,204), Llwyn-y-pia (1,644), Tonypandy (2,618), Trealaw (2,803), Pen-y-graig (3,879) EDs of the Rhondda Cynon Taff CB.

    Cynon Valley and Rhondda East (75,611) – The current Cynon Valley CC (49,405), except the Rhigos (1,337) and Hirwaun (3,076) EDs of the Rhondda Cynon Taff CB, as well as the Treherbert (4,035), Treorchy (5,545), Maerdy (2,244), Ferndale (3,040), Tylerstown (2,895), Ynyshir (2,372), Porth (4,280), Trealaw (2,803) and Cymmer (3,905) EDs of the Rhondda Cynon Taff CB.

    Barry (77,951) – Every ED of the Vale of Glamorgan CB except the St Brides Major (2,097), Llandow Ewenny (2,061), Cowbridge (4,997), Wenvoe (2,122) and Peterston-super-Ely (1,828) EDs.

    • James

      I did enjoy there the way you worked round to the point that crossing the Dyfed-Powys boundary isn’t in practice necessary or helpful: one ends up adding the Newtown and Llanidloes area to the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency. The interesting bit is what then to do with Welshpool.

      When I came up with my version of the rest of Wales, once I took out Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil, and Cardiff (the easy bits), that was in fact the very first split I put in:
      A) Powys and the North: 600,388 (8.03)
      B) Dyfed and Glamorgan (less Cardiff and Merthyr): 900,933 (12.05)

      These then both very nearly split again:
      A1) Powys, Gwynedd, and Anglesey: 228,641 (3.06)
      A2) Clwyd: 371,747 (4.97)
      B1) Dyfed and Swansea: 438,203 (5.86)
      B2) Glamorgan (less Cardiff, Swansea, and Merthyr): 462,730 (6.19)

      In practice, I found neither of these second splits satisfactory. Harry’s Anglesey and North West Gwynedd neatly illustrates the awkwardness in the Caernarfon area that made me abandon the first, whilst the second had just enough disparity to combine with the positions of the major towns to make Glamorgan awkward. But with the transfer of four wards (Arllechwedd, Gerlan, Ogwen, and Tregarth and Mynydd Llandygai) from A1 to A2 and with all of the NPT wards that used to be in Lliw Valley district (aka the Pontardawe area) from B2 to B1, this let me come up with something I feel goes along with the spirit of the rules.

      One thing I have noticed is that how one defines the areas tends to lead to clear successor constituencies on the periphery and change in the middle. For instance, in Clwyd, all of Aberconwy, Alyn and Deeside, and Wrexham can easily go in their successors, and about 70% of Delyn likewise; but the fifth constituency is a new one. This feels intuitive, but it also explains a lot about why Glamorgan is so difficult: the most constrained constituency in physical-geographical terms, is Rhondda, which is bang in the middle.

    • Georg Ebner

      Minimal mistake:
      Gwent has 5.46, Gwent&Merthyr thus 6.02.

  9. Emlyn

    In the same vein, I looked at the 3 seats in Cardiff. Remarkably, given the huge electoral divisions, they fall into place very neatly:

    Cardiff West (76,565) – The current Cardiff West BC (63,892), as well as the Whitchurch and Tongwynlais (12,673) ED.

    Cardiff North East (76,862) – The current Cardiff North BC, except the Whitchurch and Tongwynlais (12,673) ED, as well as the Cyncoed (8,139), Pentwyn (10,435) and Llanrumney (7,387) EDs.

    Cardiff Central and South East (74,451) – The remaining EDs of the City and County of Cardiff.

    • James

      You’ve crossed the Taff and Rhymney rivers unnecessarily there, and done so at points where they aren’t very permeable barriers at all.

      There is a really simple three-constituency configuration of Cardiff that’s very nice on the ground:
      Cardiff West: 75,563. Existing constituency plus Grangetown ward. Now includes all Cardiff wards west of the Taff.
      Cardiff North: 78,187. Existing constituency plus Cyncoed and Pentwyn wards, less Gabalfa ward. Unfortunately, the rather large ward sizes mean that one can’t simply add to North, but removing Gabalfa conforms its southern boundary nicely to the A48 Eastern Avenue.
      Cardiff South East: 74,128. The remainder of the city – a merger of the Cardiff part of South and Penarth, less Grangetown (to West), with Central, less Cyncoed and Pentwyn (to North), plus Gabalfa (from North).

      I actually hope the Commission find that one quickly. My worst fear is that they instead try to preserve the South and Penarth constituency (as it happens to be within the electoral range), and then start generating other weird cross-boundary constituencies.

      • Aled George

        There would be a very interesting selection fight between Jo Stevens and Stephen Doughty in this case. Given the state of the Labour membership you’d put your money on Stevens I think.

      • Emlyn

        I admit your solution is neater. Thanks. Politically, I wonder if this makes any difference to the make up? 3 Labour, or 2 Labour + 1 Tory?
        I also hope the Commission treat Cardiff as a working region, forgoing all temptation to stray into the Vale! There’s no need to d so during this Review, although if (the new) Cardiff West grows by 3,000 electors by the 2022 Review, they’ll need more than the 3 constituencies we propose.

  10. Emlyn

    We’re getting there! Here are my 6 seats for Gwent and Merthyr:

    Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney and Gelligaer (75,250) – The current Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney CC (53,166), as well as the St Cattwg (5,400), Bargoed (4,277), Gilfach (1,481), Nelson (3,374), Ystrad Mynach (3,935) and Hengoed (3,617) EDs of Caerphilly CB.

    Blaenau Gwent and Blackwood (73,573) – The whole of Blaenau Gwent CB (49,661), as well as the Argoed (1,910), Aberbargoed (2,520), Pengam (2,571), Cefn Fforest (2,765), Blackwood (5,947), Penmaen (4,004) and Crumlin (4,195) EDs of Caerphilly CB.

    Monmouth (78,101) – All of Monmouthshire (68,267), as well as the Langstone (3,620) and Caerleon (6,214) EDs of the City and County of Newport.

    Newport (72,500) – The whole City and County of Newport, except its Langstone (3,620), Caerleon (6,214), Malpas (5,939), Bettws (5,275) and Rogerstone (7,743) EDs.

    Caerphilly (76,211) – The Rogerstone (7,743) ED of the City and County of Newport, as well as the Aber Valley (4,478), Llanbradach (3,133), Penyrheol (8,525), Morgan Jones (5,153), Bedwas Trethomas & Machen (7,456), St Martins (6,203), St James (4,126), Risca East (4,468), Risca West (3,795), Maesycwmmer (1,607), Ynysddu (2,709), Crosskeys (2,344), Pontllanfraith (5,976), Newbridge (4,611) and Abercarn (3,884) EDs of Caerphilly CB.

    Torfaen (77,367) – The whole of Torfaen CB (66,153), as well as the Malpas (5,939) and Bettws (5,275) EDs of the City and County of Newport.

    • James

      That is the obvious basic configuration for the South East: it preserves three of the six constituencies entire, and one more with a very minor loss. Newport indeed needs to lose five wards, donating two to Monmouthshire, one or two to Torfaen (depending on which wards they are), and one or two to Caerphilly. Caerphilly itself needs to donate substantial chunks to get Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney up to quota; the size and configuration of these chunks is the other thing that is a reasonably debatable thing.

      What I’d currently go for here is:

      Newport: 75,986. Losing Llanwern, Langstone, Caerleon, Rogerstone, and Graig. [This differs from you in choosing Llanwern and Graig rather than Malpas and Bettws to move out – this results in a more compact Newport constituency.]
      Monmouth: 74,532. Monmouthshire county plus Llanwern and Langstone. [So Llanwern instead of Caerleon. They’re both reasonable configurations.]
      Torfaen: 72,367. Torfaen CB plus Caerleon. [I went for the one ward solution; if it’s two, then it’s Malpas and Bettws as you chose.]
      Blaenau Gwent and Blackwood: 76,304. Blaenau Gwent CB plus Argoed, Blackwood, Crumlin, Newbridge, Penmaen, and Pontllanfraith wards from Caerphilly CB. [So I went for Newbridge and Pontllanfraith rather than Aberbargoed and Cefn Fforest. This is actually quite a hard three-way choice – the other serious option I see being Cefn Fforest and Pontllanfraith. It’s certainly not nice splitting Blackwood from either Cefn Fforest or Pontllanfraith, but to include both leaves Newbridge as a bit of a panhandle and splits Hengoed from Ystrad Mynach in turn. Ultimately, I chose the option I did as a trade-off that let me put both Graig and Rogerstone into Caerphilly.]
      Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney: 75,554. Existing constituency plus Aberbargoed, Bargoed, Cefn Fforest, Gilfach, Nelson, Pengam, and St Cattwg wards. [So Aberbargoed and Cefn Fforest for Hengoed and Ystrad Mynach. That’s the impact of the trade-off.]
      Caerphilly: 77,899. The rest of Caerphilly CB, plus Graig and Rogerstone from Newport. [So that’s plus Graig, Hengoed, and Ystrad Mynach, and minus Newbridge and Pontllanfraith.]

      The devil is definitely in the detail in the South East, but I’ll be surprised if the basic configuration the Commission proposes isn’t something like what we both arrived at independently.

      • Emlyn

        Thanks for affirming my basic plan. Keeping UAs and existing seats as intact as possible is an important consideration, in my opinion. Why break up long-standing arrangements needlessly?!
        Firstly, I like the idea of adding Craig and Rogerstone to Caerphilly. Placing Llanwern with Monmouth is neater given geography and communities of interest. The trade off, though, is splitting the Gelligaer Community (St Cattwg, Hengoed and Ystrad Mynach EDs).
        Secondly, though, you’ve done a better job than me in keeping the Bargoed Community (Bargoed, Aberbargoed, Gilfach EDs) intact. You’ve united one community and split another. I suspect the Commission will need to grapple with that problem a lot during this process!
        Thirdly, though, splitting Blackwood from Cefn Fforest seems to be cruel. I have tried to keep the pre-1974 boundary between Glamorgan and Monmouthshire intact at that point, and the community of interest between Blackwood and Cefn Fforest seems too large to break.
        Mind you, I’m glad you haven’t torn strips off me for taking Treherbert and Treorchy away from the rest of Rhondda Fawr, and uniting them over the mountain with Rhondda Fach and the Cynon Valley (without so much as a main road to bind them!).
        Folks, if anyone has a workable solution for the upper Rhondda and Cynon valleys which isn’t going to bring down howls of fury, I’d be glad to hear it. I thought that sending the Rhigos and Hirwaun wards off to Neath was the safest thing to do.

        • James

          Yeah, I really hope this layout of Gwent emerges in its basic form in the provisional recommendations – there are so many trade-offs in the details that it will be a really interesting back-and-forth.

          I’m completely open to the idea of splitting the Rhondda, if it achieves something a non-split map doesn’t. But I think we can look at Glamorgan as a problem with quite tight constraints and achieve at least a reasonable solution without splitting a constituency with such good internal and limited external connectivity.

          So let’s define the parameters:
          1) Merthyr Tydfil needs to be grouped with Gwent to avoid a Gwent-Powys or a Gwent-Cardiff constituency and the widespread boundary changes that would entail.
          2) Cardiff can and should stand on its own.
          3) As Cardiff can stand on its own, we can now draw our first Glamorgan constituency, as we have quite literally drawn ourselves into a corner: PENARTH AND BARRY CC: 72,571. St Athan, Rhoose, and Wenvoe wards and everything in the Vale south-east of them. (I have mentioned before my preference for not separating Peterston ward – and Welsh St Donat’s community in particular – from Cowbridge.)
          4) The southern/western border of Powys is not to be crossed, as it is within 140 electors of being a perfect split on a Wales-wide level. There is no reasonable gain to be had in crossing this.
          5) Dyfed has 271,381 electors, which is 3.63 times the quota. The maximum for three constituencies is 3.15 and the minimum for four is 3.80. Crossing the Loughor is therefore forced.
          6) Adding Swansea to Dyfed just about works, but adding the Swansea Valley wards of Neath Port Talbot as well works even better. It is possible to play around with both splits and see what sorts of maps one can generate, but I will assume for now that Dyfed + Swansea + the Pontardawe area of NPT are grouped for 454,594 electors, or 6.08 times the quota (rather than 438,203 (5.86) without Pontardawe).

          What this leaves is an area of central Glamorgan with 373,768 electors (5.00 quotas, would one believe it?! Just 77 electors short of perfection…).

          Now, if one doesn’t split the Rhondda, and one adds to it in such a way as to let it touch the edge of the area, this will have the effect of placing the other four constituencies around it. This means that we can quickly dismiss some obvious-looking options as very bad indeed:
          1) Combining the Rhondda with Pontypridd town. This means that the Cynon Valley constituency needs to grow at the expense of Neath, approximately as far as the middle of Neath town. This is not a good idea.
          2) Combining the Rhondda with Aberdare. This ends up with the Neath constituency splitting Port Talbot along the Afan.
          3) Combining the Rhondda with Tonyrefail, Gilfach Goch, Llantrisant (with Beddau), and Pontyclun. This one is more subtly wrong. Pontypridd takes most of the Cynon Valley. Rhigos and Hirwaun go into Neath. But then one finds one is trying to make awkward splits near both Port Talbot and Bridgend. It could potentially be done, but I just can’t find a map that doesn’t do something truly awful.

          So let’s try positioning some constituencies around the edge and seeing where that leaves the Rhondda going. We can add an observation here: Neath and Port Talbot do not fit in a constituency together; they should therefore have two constituencies. Putting in the former district boundary between the two is as good a place to start as any. So:

          1) NEATH AND ABERDARE CC: 78,023. Compared to the current Neath CC, this is removing the Pontardawe area, adding the Coedffranc and Briton Ferry communities from Aberafan, and adding Rhigos, Hirwaun, Penywaun, Llwydcoed, Aberdare, Aberaman, and Cwmbach from Cynon Valley.
          2) PONTYPRIDD CC: 78,033. The existing Pontypridd CC, less Tonyrefail (if the Rhondda is going to go anywhere, one has to take precautions!), plus the rest of Cynon Valley (uniting Pontypridd town in one constituency), and the communities of Llanharry and Llanharan (with Brynna) from Ogmore, going all the way up to the CB boundary in the south-west corner.
          3) BRIDGEND AND COWBRIDGE CC: 74,353. The existing Bridgend CC, less Pyle and Cornelly communities but plus Pencoed community in Bridgend (this is technically not necessary, but makes the next constituency much more coherent), plus all of the Vale of Glamorgan wards not yet assigned.
          4) ABERAFAN AND MAESTEG CC: 71,942. The existing Aberavon CC (let’s use the opportunity to kill the archaic spelling), less the Coedffranc and Briton Ferry communities (to Neath and Aberdare), plus the Pyle and Cornelly communities from Bridgend, plus the existing Ogmore CC excluding those parts in Rhondda Cynon Taf CB and excluding the communities of Pencoed (to Bridgend and Cowbridge), Ogmore Valley, and Garw Valley.

          So that’s four perfectly sensible constituencies round the periphery – and it should be relatively obvious why including Pontardawe in the group is not as tidy – leaving:

          5) RHONDDA AND OGMORE CC: 71,417. The existing Rhondda CC, plus the communities of Tonyrefail (from Pontypridd), Gilfach Goch, Ogmore Valley, and Garw Valley (from Ogmore). This may seem a bit stunning, but it makes a lot of sense – Gilfach Goch, in RCT, is already in the upper Ogmore Valley. The constituency is well-connected via Tonyrefail, as well as via the Bwlch Mountain Road between the Ogmore Valley and Treorci.

          My suspicions are that the Boundary Commission will come up with something less radical than this though, even though I’ve got a perfect successor to one constituency and obvious 70%-ish successors to the other four in that group of five. The downside is that this layout crosses local authority boundaries a lot: there is just one constituency entirely within RCT, and none within Bridgend and NPT.

  11. Morgan

    One comment which comes up now and again, and which causes some very awkward arrangements is the need to keep existing constituencies wherever possible.


    These are the least natural of all the possible criteria….natural geography, transport links, County/County Borough boundaries, preserved County boundaries, are all valid criteria, and probably in that order.

    The only reason to consider existing constituencies is to pander to local political activists who are trying to squeeze some political advantage.

  12. Morgan

    Looking at the solutions above, James and Emlyn seem to be getting close to workable solutions – Da iawn..

    Harry on the other hand…..ych a fi……

  13. Harry Hayfield

    This is precisely why I did this exercise. In order to generate debate and discussion so that when the Commission report in September and ask for people’s thoughts, non polticos and as well as politicos offer their thoughts

  14. Georg Ebner

    Stupid question of an ignorant foreigner:
    Won’t these constituencies remain the same for the Assembly as well? But then the other 31 seats have to be put into regions – probably 5 with ~6 (5-7) seats – not crossing the borders of the 29. Thus these uncrossable regions would have to be defined first before drawing the FPTP-seats!?

    • Roger Scully

      Not a stupid question Georg, but a very important question for Wales over the next few years. Do we stick to the same boundaries for Westminster and the Assembly? If so, how do we re-orient the system? Or do we go for different sets of boundaries?

      • Georg Ebner

        I thank You!
        Below is a proposa of mine, based on 5 regions with 6 seats each (NorthEast 5).

  15. Georg Ebner

    Possible regions:

    NE (with Conwy, without Gwynedd) 4.93.
    SE (Gwent&Merthyr) 6.02.
    M&W 6.65.
    SW and SM 11.40.

    Transfering (parts of) Llanelli to the SW would produce 5 regions.

  16. Rob Hepworth

    I haven’t got the knowledge to look at the rest of Wales, but as a resident of South Monmouthshire, and Newport for over 30 years I have no doubt that a Severnside seat embracing current Newport East plus Chepstow and surrounding villages makes the most sense, sharing the river and the South Wales motorway links. The rest of Monmouthshire can be expanded to the north to make a South Marches seat perhaps.

    • Aled George

      I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of a ‘Marches’ seat or seats. I was born and educated at the very east of Radnorshire and our politics are very naturally faced East in to England where many of our services were provided. No Welsh politician fully speaks to that (though to be fair Kirsty Williams does understand and reference this when she is in our locality). One bold idea would be to create a thin Marches seat (or seats) to represent those areas of Wales for whom Hereford or Shrewsbury is where one access health care and where employment is normally found. It would be a very radical idea indeed, but those living near the border have very different needs and a very different conception of Welsh politics than those living inward of the current constituency make up.

    • James

      This really deserves more comment than it’s got.

      There’s quite a bit to commend this arrangement. You’ve managed to get the Denbighshire constituency (which naturally results from having clear successors to Aberconwy, Delyn, Alyn and Deeside, and Wrexham) only to comprise areas of two local authorities. The downside is that none of Delyn, Alyn and Deeside, and Wrexham includes the entirety of the existing constituency – Wrexham because of aligning it with the boundaries in the south of the county, Alyn and Deeside because it needs to lose an area to Delyn on this arrangement, and Delyn to avoid splitting Connah’s Quay. The only point where I feel you’ve been totally brutal is Gwernymynydd ward (just outside Mold) – it would be better to leave it in Delyn and have a bit more disparity.

      It would be *very* interesting to see notionals on that Delyn and that Wrexham too – they could be quite marginal.

      MID AND WEST (A)
      As you’ve respected the western boundary of Powys, I’ll split this into two for commenting.

      So I’ll take first Anglesey, Gwynedd, and Powys. I think this is clearly the better of the two simplest groupings of local authorities when it comes to Powys. The alternative of Anglesey+Gwynedd+Conwy and Denbighshire+Flintshire+Wrexham+Powys has greater disparity between the two areas, ends up crossing the Powys boundary in a place where there are virtually no communication links, and disrupts the Aberconwy constituency unnecessarily (but I do expect it to arise in the review for a couple of politically-motivated reasons, which I’ll mention at the end). So accepting the Anglesey+Gwynedd+Powys group, it is then a fairly trivial observation that the current five constituencies are arranged in a series (i.e. there are no tripoints), and replacing them by three as the numbers require will mean splitting Arfon and Montgomeryshire.

      Despite Arfon being so badly undersized that it can almost be added to the current Ynys Môn constituency within the electoral range, splitting it is problematic. The obvious split comes too close to Caernarfon town, cutting it off from its hinterland in Snowdonia and from Bontnewydd, which is essentially a suburb of the town. You’ve gone for this, but I think it’s just too awkward. The best way I see of fudging it is to move the four wards of Arllechwedd, Gerlan, Ogwen, and Tregarth and Mynydd Llandegai into the Aberconwy constituency, then have Denbighshire take Llansannan and Uwchaled wards additionally to compensate; this would allow a nicer split in southern Arfon (say, moving just Llanllyfni, Penygroes, and Talysarn out).

      Montgomeryshire is also by necessity an interesting split. By far the two largest towns, Newtown and Welshpool, are in the east of a county, and any reasonable split will put one in one constituency and the other in the other; this requires splitting the county into northern and southern parts. The line you’ve come up with is a good one (ideally I’d move Montgomery ward into the northern half). This is a sensible and obvious scheme, but if the Boundary Commission proposes it, I do foresee howls of protest from the Gwynedd part of the constituency that includes northern Montgomeryshire (just as they came up with hundreds of objections when a previous review came up with Dwyfor Meirionnydd): there will be complaints about the size of the constituency, even though it will be smaller than the southern Powys one and well below the limit; there will be appeals to the Welsh language, even though Montgomeryshire and Meirionnydd share many dialect features (e.g. the “a fain”); and the 15,000 or so electors on the Llŷn peninsula will object to not being the centre of gravity of a constituency – well, really, what did they expect for living on a peninsula? (Oh, and your naming this one Gwynedd is genius; just bound to add to the amount of protests this will inevitably cause.)

      And so there are the two obvious political objections on their way (I think we can play a sort of bingo here, they are so obvious):
      1) Plaid Cymru can be expected not to like the predictable Gwynedd-North Montgomeryshire link-up, because they are very weak in Montgomeryshire, putting the second-placed Conservatives in Dwyfor Meirionnydd notionally into the lead in the combined constituency. One can surely expect them to come up with a beggar-thy-neighbour plan linking North Montgomeryshire to Wrexham and/or Denbighshire (presuming that the Commission don’t play into their hands here in the first place).
      2) Labour, who currently hold Ynys Môn, will desperately want to try excluding Caernarfon town (which is heavily Plaid Cymru) from that constituency, and will try to pull in Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr instead. At the abortive review in 2013, they managed to sneak this through into the revised recommendations.

      MID AND WEST (B)
      I agree that the basic configuration of Ceredigion (with pluses from both neighbours), a slightly reduced Pembrokeshire, and a core of Carmarthenshire (putting Llanelli into a constituency crossing into Glamorgan) is a good one, although I do find it slightly concerning that only one constituency is entirely contained within a single successor. I don’t think there’s a better basic configuration to be had, so I’ll comment on some details.

      You’ve clearly tried to keep down the area you move out in the South-East of Carmarthenshire by including Llandovery in Ceredigion – I’d jump the other way on this trade-off. In Pembrokeshire, Maenclochog ward is south of the Preseli mountains and should go south; it is better to put Fishguard town and its immediate hinterland into the Ceredigion constituency.

      One minor thing: splitting Pembrey from Burry Port is a bit brutal.

      SOUTH WEST (A)
      Again I’ll comment on the first three separately, as treating the Swansea Valley part of Neath Port Talbot with Swansea and the Carmarthenshire cross-border constituency is a sensible way of working with the numbers, rather than working against them.

      What you’ve done is a nice illustration of one basic approach to the area, with Gower being the constituency that is essentially abolished: Swansea East takes the Swansea Valley (Clydach ward from Gower, plus the area from NPT), Swansea West takes slightly less than half of the current Gower constituency, and the rest of ex-Gower ends up in the cross-border constituency with Carmarthenshire. This approach is quite attractive, as all constituencies are within two local authorities at most. The downside is that the urban core of Swansea is split between two constituencies stretching way out into the country.

      The other main approach to this area is to treat Swansea West as the constituency to abolish: have Swansea East take Castle, Uplands, and Townhill wards from West (and rename the result Swansea Central), then merge the rest of West into Gower, which then only needs to lose Clydach, Mawr, and Pontardulais wards, which in turn can go with the NPT wards into the cross-boundary constituency with Carmarthenshire. The plus here is the single, compact constituency covering the urban core of Swansea; the downside is that the cross-boundary constituency contains parts of three local authorities.

      This will definitely be an interesting area in the proposals. I don’t really see much political advantage in one over the other; so I expect there will be a genuine debate on this one.

      I’ll group the other half with South Central, as you have split the current Pontypridd constituency across the border between the two.

      The three Cardiff constituencies are identical to how I’d do them. Barry is more-or-less forced, although you’ve got Peterston ward in there, which I’d put in the western of the two constituencies covering the Vale.

      As you’ve respected the northern boundary of the current Bridgend constituency, we can take stock of the rest of these areas: currently five constituencies plus most of a sixth cover it, and these need to be reduced to four. You have chosen to abolish Aberavon and Pontypridd (i.e. one around from my preference for abolishing Ogmore and Cynon Valley). My initial feeling is that these are poor choices to abolish, as the three largest towns in the area are Neath, Port Talbot, and Pontypridd, and you’ve abolished the constituencies that two of the three are in. The good thing about this arrangement is that it keeps where the boundary of Rhondda Cynon Taf is crossed in the same place. The bad thing is that it results in some very nasty details on a local level: Port Talbot is split along the River Afan; and two more communities, Tonyrefail and Llantwit Fardre, are split as the numbers of the current Pontypridd constituency are shoe-horned into Cynon Valley and Rhondda. This concentration of bad boundaries in the Ely half of the former Taff-Ely district results in its now being split between three constituencies rather than two.

      Another variation on the basic configuration that both Emlyn and I arrived at. The surprising bit is in the border between Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney and Blaenau Gwent. Despite Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney needing to gain more Caerphilly wards, you’ve moved Moriah and New Tredegar wards out of the constituency. The result is that Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney now stretches down to the northern edge of Caerphilly town, taking in Llanbradach and the Aber Valley (the latter over a mountain pass!). I’m not sure of why you’d want to do this, as it doesn’t even make it any easier to draw the southern boundary of the Blaenau Gwent constituency.

      • Georg Ebner

        I thought, that NewTredegar would fit to Tredegar and the Rhymney was the traditional border.

        I thank You for Your reply and will have as soon as possible a closer look at Your ideas!

      • Georg Ebner

        I thank You very much for Your response&ideas and please You to excuse my late answer (I have been abroad).
        Concerning Gwernymynydd You are probably right, I put it to Alyn because that would match the northern border of LlanarmonYnIal/Llandegla in Denbighshire.
        But in Arfon one has to make either Bangor with its 18.000 inhabitants a BorderTown – as You proposed, cutting A5 and causing transfers from Conwy to Denbighs – or Caernarfon with only 9.000 and the possibility to have a NaturalBorder (AfonSeiont) then. I had a look at both, decided for the latter.
        My ConstituencyName for Gwynedd&NW-Montgomeryshire would be inviable, indeed. (I took that one provisorically and forgot to think about it.)
        Your version of Gwnedd&NW-M. summs up to only 70.895, I think. So You might add Caersws+Rhiwcynon and subtract Montgomery (73.222, restPowys 72.086).
        Thanks for the idea of taking Fishguard+Godwick+Scleddau to CardiganBay (instead of Maenclochog; Llandovery); I didn’t try that out, because I thought, that Fishguard would be far too populous.
        With putting Pembrey to LLanelli You are right, too.
        Your idea for Swansea has the advantage of having Motor&Rail-Way as “natural” border; but therefor Sketty/… are suddenly split from SwanseaCity and Rhos would “belong” to Llanelli far away in the very West.
        In my version Pontypridd could remain the centre for CynonValley and PortTalbot that of Ogmore (admittingly I am this time on the western fringe…). NeathVale-Neath-Aberavon-PortTalbot should belong together, right, but it’s too populous, so You have to draw a BorderLine and river Arfon isn’t the worst one, is it?
        In RhonddaCynonTaf I tried also a North-South-divide (Aberdare-Pontypridd); that version’s border was not convincing though and the main TrafficRoutes go from SE to NW.
        Because of the river Ely as a NaturalBorder I divided Tonyrefail-E and -W.
        Peterston is by air nearer to Barry than Bridgend, but including the MotorWay Your idea might be better.
        In Caerphilly I intended to merge Tredegar&NewTredegar and to reestablish river Rhymney as the historical&natural border (whereas I as someone living at the Alpes wouldn’t take the “MountainPass” there too serious…); still, Your version (Moriah+NewTredegar in MerthyrTydfil, Llanbradach+AberValley in Caerphilly, Crumlin+Newbridge in BlaenauGwent) is indeed easier.

        Tomorrow we’ll see certainly very different plans, with dozens of fishy compromises for all parties, incumbents aso.

  17. Geraint

    Am I right in thinking that the Electoral Commission also has to keep an eye on the probable results their boundaries will produce and ensure that number of MPs (for the main parties) elected in a region very broadly reflects the percentage vote a party gets in that region?

    • Emlyn

      Such considerations are (and indeed must be) irrelevant to the Boundary Commissions. Their political neutrality must be beyond reproach.

      The representations that they will receive in the course of the public consultations, however, will often be driven by covert political agendas couched in arguments about history, geography, naturalness and communities of interest.

      I hope the commissioners are good at filtering out the bs, if you’ll forgive the unparliamentary language!

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