NI Boundary Commission electoral map review cost revealed

By Michael Fitzpatrick
BBC News

Image caption,
The Boundary Commission had suggested reducing NI's MPs from 18 to 16

More than £500,000 has been spent on plans to redraw the Northern Ireland electoral map despite signs the shake-up will not go ahead, the BBC has learned.

The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland revealed that £557,000 had been spent by the end of August on the constituency reform plan.

The figure was disclosed in response to a freedom of information request.

The review of constituencies was launched in March 2011.

It was ordered by the coalition government.

However, the plan to reduce the number of Northern Ireland seats at Westminster from 18 to 16 may never be realised.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would block the changes after David Cameron indicated he could not deliver on reform plans for the House of Lords.

Conservatives are to begin the process of selecting candidates for the next election within existing boundaries, which suggests the proposals may never see the light of day.

The Boundary Commission had suggested the South Belfast constituency could be divided between expanded Belfast South West and South East seats.

In the west, Mid Ulster, East Londonderry and West Tyrone were to be reorganised into two new seats called Glenshane and Mid Tyrone.

Other changes included the Ards Peninsula shifting from Strangford to North Down, with much of Ballymena moving from North Antrim to a new Mid Antrim seat.

The aim of the review was to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and in the process end up with more equal-sized constituencies.

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