Plan to alter Bodmin and Padstow constituencies 'unnatural'
ST AUSTELL could be paired with Bodmin and Padstow in a radical shake-up of the electoral boundaries in a move that has been described as "unnatural".
The Boundary Commission published a final draft on Tuesday of its proposals outlining how Cornwall would be divided under plans to reduce the number of MPs nationally from 650 to 600.
This includes a controversial cross-county 'Devonwall' seat covering Bude in North Cornwall and Bideford in West Devon.
But St Austell – currently paired with Newquay – would be drastically altered, with the town sharing an MP with Wadebridge, Bodmin and Padstow.
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This is a change from previous proposals, which suggested excluding Newquay and combining St Austell with Truro to form a new boundary.
The new constituency would span nearly 40 miles from Port Isaac on the north coast to Gorran Haven on the south.
"I will continue to oppose the boundary reorganisation. These proposals are as dead as the dodo," said St Austell and Newquay MP Steve Gilbert, who is also against the idea of creating a Devonwall seat.
"With population change we do, of course, need to continue to keep the boundaries under review but I see little merit in what the Boundary Commission has suggested."
When asked what he would prefer the boundaries be, he said: "I don't think it should be the business of MPs or potential candidates to go around suggesting what the boundaries they would like are, that's why we have an independent commission.
"The Liberal Democrats have been really clear about this. They will not support the boundary proposals. Therefore, they will not go through," he added.
St Austell mayor John Keast agreed, saying the new boundary proposal did not seem "natural".
"It sounds as if they have got a kind of mid-Cornwall block from one coast to the other," he said.
"I trust Stephen Gilbert is looking at it from the point of view of re-electability.
"But my instant reaction is one of surprise, because it's not a natural community.
"St Austell and Newquay have an obvious connection, St Austell and Truro are quite closely linked, but there is no real connection between St Austell and the Wadebridge and Padstow area. It's an artificial constituency really."