A BICESTER councillor welcomes the idea of a new constituency and MP for Bicester, but has concerns about how big the proposed boundary could be.

The Boundary Commission has drawn up plans for new parliamentary constituencies across England to reflect the fact that the population is growing in the south of the country and shrinking in some parts of the north.

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Under the proposals, Bicester could have its own constituency and MP.

County and Bicester town councillor for Bicester West Les Sibley says residents will appreciate having a Bicester MP, but says the commission needs to 'look further into the blueprint'.

He is concerned that the population of Bicester will quickly surpass the 77,062 limit within the proposed constituency boundary due to the additional villages that have been added.

He said: "It’s a fantastic opportunity, but I’m a bit concerned about how far the boundary stretches - it’s a massive area. About 35,000 people are already in Bicester and in a decade or two we’ll have something like 70,000 people in the town with all these housing developments being built. I think that’s an important point that people will need to take on board."

Each constituency is by law meant to have between 69,724 and 77,062 residents under the representation of a single MP.

Under the proposals released on Tuesday for Bicester, the wards of Fringford and Heyfords, Bicester West, Bicester South and Ambrosden and Launton and Otmoor would no longer be part of Banbury.

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Instead they would form part of a new Bicester constituency along with more wards stretching west to Eynsham.

These include Kidlington East, Kidlington West, Eynsham and Cassington, Freeland and Hanborough, North Leigh, Woodstock and Bladon, Stonesfield and Tackley.

Mr Sibley says having an MP for Bicester would give the town the attention it needs.

He added: "It’ll be great because Bicester will be able to have somebody who lives locally and be able to take the issues that affect Bicester straight to the heart of Westminster instead of being split in two.

"A lot of local people will say that, at the moment, Banbury gets the best of everything and Bicester only gets the crumbs that are left. That’s their view. But this would see a better, fairer deal for Bicester."

An eight-week consultation has started, allowing residents to comment on the proposals.

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North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis said she was not surprised by the prospect of a Bicester constituency.

She said: “It has been clear for some time now that the Banbury constituency would need to be looked at carefully during the next round of boundary reform given the level of growth across North Oxfordshire.

"With a population of over 125,000 and an electorate of over 90,000, it is one of the largest Parliamentary constituencies in the UK.

“While the decision to form a new Bicester constituency does not come as a surprise, it is important to remember that these proposals have been put forward by the independent Boundary Commission. They will be subject to lengthy and detailed consultation in the weeks and months ahead. No decisions have been made.”

The Boundary Commission is not due to make its final recommendations to Parliament until July 2023.

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