New Devonwall constituency is a 'sad day for democracy'
Residents, businessmen and politicians have reacted with dismay to news that plans to create a so-called "Devonwall" constituency will go ahead.
Boundary commissioners yesterday confirmed that Devon and Cornwall will lose one MP between them in the plans to slash the number of MPs from 650 to 600.
Officials have opted to create a new seat straddling the border to include Bude in North Cornwall and Bideford in West Devon, in a move that has been described as "a sad day for democracy and for Cornwall".
The Boundary Commission for England opted against crossing the border at the River Tamar to create a constituency that includes Plymouth and Saltash. But the plans to bring Bideford and Bude together instead have been met with fierce opposition in both counties.
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Trevor Johns, mayor of Bideford, said: "I feel strongly it's not the right thing to do. The Conservatives are manipulating [boundary change] to gain an advantage. We get on well with Bude – I go on civic visits there. But I don't want the boundary broken down."
Peter Moores, his counterpart at Bude, was more measured. He said he didn't believe Cornwall Council or Westminster was offering much support to his town, and suggested some co-operation between the two towns could be helpful.
"I know there are lots of people in Cornwall against any change, but there is no 'them and us' rivalry here," he said. "It may help us to work better with Bideford on economic issues."
However, he accepted that many of his fellow councillors and Bude residents would not agree with his views.
Patricia Moore, who owns the Atlantic Diner in Bude, was one such resident.
"It just seems to me as if it's a way of saving money on the Government's behalf," she said. "Giving MPs more work for a bigger area that they don't really understand.
"You're going to get someone from this area who doesn't really understand Bideford, or vice versa. There are divides between Devon and Cornwall."
She said blurring the boundary would create resentment, particularly for the Cornish, and foresaw the creation of the new seat causing "major problems".
Jane Maynard, President of Bideford Town Chamber of Commerce, said she wasn't concerned that the "Devonwall" seat – provisionally called Bideford and Bude – would cross the border.
But she was worried that the changes would mean an MP would have less time to dedicate to individual towns in such a wide rural area.
The "Devonwall" issue has been hugely controversial from the outset, sparking the Keep Cornwall Whole Campaign. Hundreds took part in a demonstration against the plans on the Cornwall banks of the Tamar last year.
Adam Killeya, the Lib Dem councillor for Saltash who led the cross-party Keep Cornwall Whole campaign, said: "It's a sad day for democracy and for Cornwall; although South East Cornwall has fortunately been spared."