A part of a Welsh island has been included as part of England under new plans for Westminster constituencies.
The UK’s electoral map is currently being redrawn in an attempt to make all Parliamentary constituencies contain roughly the same number of voters and the proposals for England have been released first.
And it appears that the new proposal for Bristol North West constituency is for it to include a tiny corner of Flatholm Island in the Bristol Channel, which comes in the Cardiff council area.
The plan has been published on the website of the the Boundary Commission for England which is the independent organisation responsible for reviewing Parliamentary constituency boundaries (here in Wales we have the Boundary Commission for Wales).
According to the map, the constituency of Bristol North West appears to not stop when it reaches the Bristol Channel. Instead it continues out into the sea of miles incorporating the bottom tip of Flat Holm Island that is in Wales.
This means that technically a part of the Bristol constituency is actually in Wales.
How has this happened?
WalesOnline approached the Boundary Commission for England and asked them why this strange anomaly exists and they said: “Flat Holm is part of Butetown ward, in the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency in Wales, and Steep Holm is part of Weston-super-Mare Hillside ward in the Weston-Super-Mare constituency.
The water between them is part of Avonmouth & Lawrence Weston ward in the Bristol North West constituency, which includes the approaches to the port of Avonmouth. The ward boundary drawn by LGBCE can be viewed in their map here. The issue does not have consequences for the 2023 Review as we define constituencies via ward lists.”
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Under the current boundaries the southern tip of the island is also included and appears to be the only one in the whole of the UK where the constituency doesn’t end near the seashore.
The reason for this has confused people for some time. Russ Garrett explained how unusual it was in a Twitter thread.
He pointed out that an Ordinance Survey map from 1956 also showed the boundary and suggested it may be something to do with shipping.
He also added that “Aberdeen and Torbay council areas also clearly extend beyond the low water line” but that this is likely due to seabed movements.
Hilariously he even plotted where the Welsh border was on the map and pointed out that “2.8 square kilometres of Bristol lies within Wales.”