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Don't destroy all our hard work fighting gang crime; MP FEARS BRUM BOUNDARY SHAKE-UP WILL TEAR APART COMMUNITIES.

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor

PLANS to re-draw the political map of Birmingham will tear communities apart, it has been claimed.

Crime could even rise if controversial proposals to change Parliamentary constituencies go ahead, said MP Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr).

He hit out at proposals to cut the number of Birmingham MPs from ten to nine, and to re-draw constituencies so that some Birmingham residents are represented by Black Country MPs.

Mr Mahmood said he had worked with police and others to cut gang crime in the wards of Handsworth Wood and Lozells East & Handsworth, which are both currently part of his constituency.

But under plans drawn up by the Boundary Commission for England, the Handsworth Wood ward will become part of the West Bromwich constituency.

It means residents of Handsworth Wood, in Birmingham, will now have an MP whose constituency mostly covers Sandwell, in the Black Country.

Mr Mahmood's constituency also currently contains the ward of Oscott, in Birmingham.

But this will become part of a new constituency called Walsall and Oscott, and most of the residents will be in Walsall.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Mahmood demanded a re-think.

He told MPs that the changes would hinder the fight against crime, saying: "Both Handsworth Wood and Lozells East and Handsworth have experienced problems with knife crime, drugs and shootings. These two wards have been held together by the work we have done to unite them.

"We have managed to cut the crime rate because we have been able to work together as a unit."

He added: "I am passionate about keeping this unity, because of the work we have done over the last 16 and a half years, with the police, the community and many different sorts of organisations, to pull that together.

"Thankfully, over the last 16 years, working with these organisations and the police, we have managed to address them. We want to continue to hold the constituency together, and support those people."

He also warned that people in Oscott would not be properly represented by a Walsall MP, and said that they would be cut off from the rest of their new constituency.

"There is a combined community, which is served by Birmingham City Council rather than by Walsall Council.

"It will be difficult enough for an MP to represent two district councils, let alone how difficult people will find it to understand where they should go in order to receive the service that they used to receive. The Commission is ignoring the needs of the community by carelessly trying to lump it on to another district."

Under the current proposals, a new constituency will be created called Birmingham Erdington and Perry Barr, which will include the wards of Erdington, Kingstanding, Perry Barr, Stockland Green and Tyburn. There will be nine Birmingham MPs, but that includes the MP for Birmingham Northfield, who will represent residents from Bromsgrove as well as their Birmingham constituents.

Solihull will continue to have two MPs as it does now.

Residents who find themselves in a new constituency won't change their address or postcode.

Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell had requested that the name of his constituency be changed to "Royal Sutton Coldfield", but the Boundary Commission rejected this idea.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 6, 2017
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