What will happen to Suffolk MPs in the great boundary shake-up?
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk's MPs are getting to grips with the proposed changes to the constituency boundaries that have radical proposals for much of the county.
However, five of the seven MPs currently sitting for Suffolk seats should be able to retain their Conservative party nomination reasonably easily if they want to stay on for their current seat.
The Ipswich and South Suffolk seats are effectively unchanged so Tom Hunt and James Cartlidge will be seen as sitting MPs.
The Waveney seat is to revert to its previous name of Lowestoft when it loses Bungay to the new North Suffolk seat, but that apart the seat is still very similar to its current map profile so Peter Aldous will be seen as the sitting MP.
The same can be said of Dr Therese Coffey in Suffolk Coastal. That seat loses a few villages to the north of Saxmundham and regains Wickham Market from the current Central Suffolk seat - but the changes are fairly limited.
Dr Dan Poulter's Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat sees some major changes. It is effectively split in two with Stowmarket and Needham Market from the current Bury St Edmunds seat added into the mix.
Geographically the largest part of it goes into the new North Suffolk seat, but population-wise just over two thirds of it goes into the new Ipswich North and Stowmarket seat which is much more urban-focussed than it is currently.
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That seat includes Ipswich suburbs including Rushmere, Kesgrave, Great Blakenham and Claydon as well as a fifth of the borough itself and the growing towns on the A14 corridor.
Dr Poulter may well decide to take up the right to be considered the sitting MP for that seat as he can under Conservative Party rules although his constituency home is just in the northern part of the existing seat - although within easy walking distance of the proposed boundary!
West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has his constituency home in the south of his current seat, in the area that will be in the cross-border Haverhill and Halstead seat which is bound to be seen as safe Conservative territory.
However in his 11 years in parliament he has fostered close relationships with the racing industry - whose home will be in the new Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket seat.
There are also likely to be logistical problems for any MP having to deal with two county councils - some find it hard enough to deal with two districts - so there may be concerns there.
Neither Haverhill and Halstead nor the new Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket seats will have enough of existing seats to allow Mr Hancock or Bury MP Jo Churchill to automatically claim to be the "sitting MP" next time around, but both health ministers are popular with their party members and it is difficult to see them having too many reselection problems if they did split the seats between them.
Which could all mean that the new North Suffolk seat could attract a new MP altogether - albeit one who likes driving because it covers a huge area across the top of the county.
The idea is to even up the size of constituencies - the proposals would see Suffolk's seats range from an electorate of just under 71,000 in the Haverhill and Halstead seat to almost 78,000 in North Suffolk.
And while these are only initial proposals at this stage, MPs have been told firmly that any changes are likely to be minor - or have very strong justifications because unpicking the proposed changes would be like remaking a deck of cards.
None of the MPs whose seats are facing major changes are expected to make a final decision about where to stand in a hurry - and they will doubtless be talking to each other about the options.
But there could be a lively couple of years ahead while they ponder their futures.