GENERAL elections could look quite different across Oxfordshire in the near future, as proposals for the new areas MPs would represent have been published.

The Boundary Commission has drawn up plans for new parliamentary constituencies across England to reflect the fact that the population is growing in the south of the country and shrinking in some parts of the north.

Each constituency is by law meant to have between 69,724 and 77,062 residents under the representation of a single MP.

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In Oxfordshire, the changes, if agreed, would mean Layla Moran, not Anneliese Dodds, would represent Oxford City Centre as is currently the case if they were both elected at a general election using the new boundaries.

And outside the city, a new Bicester parliamentary constituency would be created, with the four other seats: Witney, Wantage and Didcot, Banbury, and Henley; reconfigured to make room for a new MP in the county.

What does this mean for Oxford?

In Oxford there are two constituencies.

They are:

  • Oxford East (currently represented by Anneliese Dodds, Labour)
  • Oxford West and Abingdon (currently represented by Layla Moran, Lib Dem)

The Oxford East constituency, currently represented by Labour MP Anneliese Dodds, would no longer include the city centre, with a new western boundary drawn along the rivers Cherwell and Thames.

Ms Dodds said: "Like MPs across the country, I’m looking at the boundary commission’s proposals closely. Any local people who have views on the proposals should make them known to the Commission."

The Oxford West and Abingdon constituency would instead include the city centre, and would also be changed to represent Marcham just west of Abingdon.

However, this seat would no longer include Kidlington to the north of Oxford.

Layla Moran said she remained 'committed to serving all my constituents under the current boundaries, and indeed the wider communities of Oxfordshire too' even if her constituency boundaries changed.

She also advocated for 'making politics fairer by making fundamental reforms to our electoral system' including by introducing proportional representation, and said the Government was 'doing the opposite' with plans like voter ID cards.

The new electoral boundaries for Oxfordshire, including a new Bicester parliamentary seat. Picture: Boundary Commission

The current electoral boundaries for Oxfordshire. Picture: Boundary Commission

The current electoral boundaries for Oxfordshire. Picture: Boundary Commission

What is happening outside the city?

Outside of Oxford, there would be five parliamentary constituencies instead of the current four.

This would include:

  • Bicester (a new parliamentary constituency)
  • Banbury (currently represented by Victoria Prentis, Conservative)
  • Witney (currently represented by Robert Courts, Conservative)
  • Wantage and Didcot (currently represented by David Johnston, Conservative)
  • Henley (currently represented by John Howell, Conservative)

The new Bicester constituency, possibly the largest change for Oxfordshire, would include the town and nearby villages like Charlton on Otmoor, plus Woodstock, currently represented by Witney MP Robert Courts.

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North of Bicester, the redrawn Banbury constituency would include Chipping Norton and Charlbury, both of which are currently part of Witney.

Victoria Prentis, Banbury's MP said:“It has been clear for some time now that the Banbury constituency would need to be looked at carefully during the next round of boundary reform given the level of growth across North Oxfordshire."

Victoria Prentis. Picture: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA Wire

Victoria Prentis. Picture: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA Wire

The redrawn Witney constituency would instead represent more areas to the south, including Faringdon.

Witney MP Robert Courts said: "“Regular reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries are an essential cornerstone of a healthy democracy, ensuring that every vote has equal value.

He added it was 'clear' changes needed to be made due to the levels of population growth in the county, saying: “It was also clear that, with 84,000 registered voters at the 2019 General Election – significantly above the Boundary Commission’s maximum limit of 77,000 electors – changes would be required to the Witney constituency."

The Wantage and Didcot seat, currently represented by David Johnston, would be redrawn to include a corridor of land running from Didcot to Oxford, which includes Clifton Hampden.

The Henley constituency appears to have changed very little, though Clifton Hampden south of Oxford and Otmoor to the north east have both been placed within other electoral constituencies instead.

John Howell, the sitting MP, told the Oxford Mail there were few changes to his area, and added he was confident the areas being removed from the Henley constituency would be 'ably represented' but only 'if they elect a Conservative MP'.

An eight-week consultation has started today allowing residents to comment on the proposals.

Of the 533 existing English constituencies, fewer than 10 per cent will remain unchanged under the proposals.

The Boundary Commission is not due to make its final recommendations to Parliament until July 2023.

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