Plymouth MP Luke Pollard, has called for the communities affected by the shooting in August 2021 to be kept together after a proposal by the Conservative Party to split Keyham and Ford between different Parliamentary constituencies.
The residents of Keyham in Plymouth have also expressed their disappointment in response to Conservative proposals to change their constituency, and about the lack of consultation on this.
At the Boundary Commission for England’s open hearings in Exeter [21 March 2022], Luke Pollard MP made the case not to separate Keyham and Ford between two different MPs.
The boundaries that set the areas that MPs represent in Parliament, known as constituencies, is currently being looked at by the Boundary Commission as part of its regular review process. The Boundary Commission uses a set of rules to change the boundaries, and they usually shift every few years to keep a similar amount of people in each constituency.
Under new laws passed by the Government, no constituency must be smaller than 69,724 and no more than 77,062 voters. The constituency of Plymouth Sutton and Devonport is currently too large and Plymouth Moor View is too small, so part of what is now Plymouth Sutton and Devonport has to be transferred to Plymouth Moor View.
The Boundary Commission proposed moving the Beacon Park part of Peverell ward from Plymouth Sutton and Devonport into Plymouth Moor View. However, the Conservative Party has made a counter-proposal which would move the community of Keyham in Devonport ward from Plymouth Sutton and Devonport to Plymouth Moor View. This would split the representation for the communities of Keyham and Ford where the 2021 shooting took place across two Parliamentary constituencies meaning two MPs and a divided effort rather than a single focus from a single MP.
This proposal was made before the tragic mass shooting in Keyham and Ford in August took the lives of five people. As a result, questions are being asked about whether it is the right to separate Keyham and Ford, and whether the Conservatives would still have made these proposals after the shooting.
Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, has been working with the victims’ families and community in Keyham. He presented a bill to Parliament to change gun licensing laws, known as Keyham’s Law. After Luke presented to the Boundary Commission in Exeter he said:
“I accept that Parliamentary boundaries need to change and I support the Boundary Commission’s proposals to use Outland Road, Wolseley Road and the A38 as the new boundary between the two Plymouth constituencies. These big roads are natural barriers and those proposals make sense.
“The Conservative proposals to land grab Keyham and move it into Plymouth Moor View would split the community affected by the shooting. While this is a valid proposal I am disappointed that the community was not consulted before they made this formal proposal to the Boundary Commission. After the shooting no decision about Keyham and Ford’s future should be made without the involvement of Keyham and Ford in that decision. This has been a difficult six months for the community and any changes should only be made with their consent.
“I think it would be a mistake to split the communities of Keyham and Ford. They have experienced a trauma together. They need the same representative in Parliament – whether that is me or someone else after the next election.”
Laura Mervyn from Hidden Lives, a local Keyham hidden disability club, said:
“It is very upsetting to hear that there are plans to break Keyham away from Ford. Our close bond to our MP and neighbours in Devonport and Ford is really strong, and disrupting this seems a very poor decision.
“Given the tragic shooting last year, this community has pulled together along with its neighbours to comfort each other in these hard times. To hear that there are people that are looking to disrupt, divide and change this, feels cold and shows a complete lack of empathy and respect to the people of Keyham. This is not welcomed!”
Sarah Jude from the Keyham Krafties Club said:
“Since the tragedy in Keyham, the bond and supportive network which has been formed with Ford has been immense.”
At the hearing Luke also asked the Boundary Commission to reinsert Drake’s Island and the Breakwater into Plymouth Sutton and Devonport after a mapping error excluded them from being part of any constituency.