Burnthouse Lane baffled by Exeter boundary shake-up

If there’s one community in particular in Exeter where its residents love and are proud of where they live its ‘The Laners’ in Burnthouse Lane.

Remember the consultation on boundary changes is still open – Owl

Anita Merritt  www.devonlive.com

There are even those who refuse to identity themselves as being part of Wonford because living in the Lane is deemed to be an area in its own right.

To have recently been told that boundary changes could mean the street would no longer be part of Exeter but East Devon instead has not gone down well among those who have heard the news.

The common feeling though seems to be that regardless of whether Burnthouse Lane – along with parts of Countess Wear, and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital – are moved ‘out of Exeter’ under proposals for a shake-up of England’s electoral map in 2023, it won’t make any difference.

That’s because the residents say they will always be part of Exeter no matter what anyone else says, and they don’t expect it to have much impact on their lives.

If the parliamentary boundary is changed it will not affect local government boundaries or services such as bin collections so the areas will still come under the remit of Exeter City Council.

As part of the proposals, Devon will gain an extra MP and arts of what is the existing Exeter constituency will be moved into a new Exmouth seat – which primarily covers the existing East Devon seat, with areas around Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary moving into a new Honiton seat covering the east of the county.

The proposals from the Boundary Commission for England says the aim is to make Parliament fairer by giving each MP a roughly similar number of voters, which involves redrawing and renaming some seats.

A final decision will be made on July 1, 2023, following a series of consultations.

Burnthouse Lane resident Terry Mills said: “It won’t change anything as this is Burnthouse Lane. We feel part of Exeter.

“I had not heard of the boundary changes before. I would rather be in Exeter and I don’t want an MP who I am not used to, and they would not know our issues.”

Mum-of-five Debbie Coles said: “I don’t agree with it because I’m in Exeter, not East Devon. I have lived in Exeter all my life and have lived off The Lane for five years.

“I don’t quite get it.”

David James, who works behind the bar at The Dolphin pub in Burnthouse Lane, said: “I never realised they were going to change the boundaries. I live in The Lane and it would not bother me at all because it does not really change anything; I’ll still be living in The Lane.”

Harry Crompton, who now lives in St Thomas but used to live in The Lane, said: “I find it some what disappointing in that the government is manipulating votes to get into more streets. It’s unfair for the people who have voted.

“It’s basically about adjusting the boundaries so they can inherit more seats in the House of Commons.

“It will reduce the chances of a Labour seat at the next elections.

“I think a lot of people are not going to be fussed as a lot of people don’t vote anymore, and they will just carry on with their lives.”

Samantha Welch said: “I didn’t know anything about it either. I don’t think it will change anything to be honest. I live in Burnthouse Lane and the changes don’t bother me because it’s always going to be Exeter to me.”

John Mills, 72, lives in neighbouring Hazel Road, said: “I’m not really worried about it at all. It is what it is. I was born and bred in Exeter, and I like living here. I will still say I’m in Exeter, not East Devon, if it does change. I’m Exeter and nothing else.”

Angela Sowden, who also lives in The Lane, said: “I have always liked Ben Bradshaw; I have always got on with him and he has helped my family. He’s a very good MP.

“I would be disappointed if the boundaries are changed because we’ve always known this part as the west of Exeter. I prefer things as they are thanks.”

Her daughter Rebecca added: “I don’t see what the point is personally. We’ve always been known as part of Exeter so what difference will it make?

“People have always voted for Ben here so there will probably be a bit of an uproar. I can’t see an MP for East Devon travelling all the way over here to ask our opinion or that they will feel like one of us.”

Pensioners Sylvia and Tom Crawford are also not keen on the proposals.

Sylvia, who has lived in the same house in The Lane since she was a toddler, said: “It’s horrible,” and joked, “but does it mean we’re going into the posh part?

“Everybody is mucking about with everything.”

Tom added: “It sounds a bit ridiculous to me after all these years. In all honesty I don’t think it will make a difference to me.”

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said: “I would strongly encourage anyone with concerns to make representations to the Boundary Commission’s consultation. It is quick and easy to do and it is common for the commission to change its initial proposals if enough people object.

“The people of the Burnthouse Lane estate have every right to feel they are an integral and historic part of Exeter.

“When making representations it is important to stress local community and historic ties and helpful to suggest an alternative solution, given the Exeter parliamentary seat must lose at least one local council ward under the maximum size rules.

“Any change in the parliamentary boundary will not affect local government boundaries or services. Everyone in Wonford and the rest of Exeter will continue to be covered by Exeter City Council and its services.”

A spokesman for the Boundary Commission said: “We encourage everyone to use this opportunity to help us shape the new constituencies – the more responses we receive, the more informed our decisions will be when considering whether to revise our proposals.

“Our consultation portal at www.bcereviews.org.uk has more information about our proposals and how to give us your views on them.”