HARWICH and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has confirmed he will stand for re-election to the seat he has held for decades as he welcomed fresh proposals to change constituency boundaries.

Veteran Conservative Sir Bernard, who chairs the Liaison Committee, was first elected to represent Colchester North at the 1992 General Election.

When the constituency was abolished ahead of the 1997 election, he was returned to the House of Commons for the newly-established North Essex constituency, and again for the current Harwich and North Essex constituency in 2010.

Sir Bernard will lose Wix, Great Oakley, Little Oakley, Great Bentley and Little Bentley from his constituency under fresh changes proposed by the Boundary Commission.

These areas will instead fall within the Clacton boundaries.

Under the proposed changes, Harwich and North Essex will take on Old Heath and the Hythe from Colchester.

Sir Bernard said: “I have represented the Bentleys and the surrounding area for 30 years in Parliament and I will be sad I will not be seeking to represent them at the next election, nor Wix and the Oakleys.

“Boundary reviews can cause a lot of controversy, but are necessary to rebalance constituency voter numbers, in the light of population changes.”

Welcoming the latest changes, he added they represent “local feelings”.

He said: “Huge numbers from Mersea Island objected to the idea Mersea should be part of the Witham constituency, a town with few if any transport or other links to Mersea.

“Historically, Mersea was part of the county constituency of Harwich until well into the 20th century and this link was restored in recent boundary reviews.

“The links with Colchester have also always been strong, but Colchester was a separate constituency since the 1832 Reform Act.

“But Colchester has grown so much, the town is now bigger than a single constituency can be, so I welcome Old Heath and The Hythe to the Harwich and North Essex constituency.

“I can confirm that I will seeking to stand as the Conservative candidate again in the next General Election.”

Colchester MP Will Quince said rumours he is to relocate to stand for election to the Harwich and North Essex seat are "absolute nonsense". 

Gazette: Will QuinceWill Quince (Image: UK Parliament)

"I live in Colchester, my kids go to school in Colchester," he said. 

"This is the place I hope to represent come the next General Election. 

"I will put myself forward and I hope the people of Colchester continue to have faith in me."

Mr Quince welcomed changes to Colchester’s constituency boundaries and said there is “logic” to the updated proposals.

The Boundary Commission plans to include Old Heath and the Hythe, alongside Rowhedge and Mersea, in the Harwich and North Essex constituency.

The report said: “Including the Old Heath and the Hythe ward provides a stronger link between Mersea and Pyefleet and the rest of the constituency, as it contains Fingringhoe Road, which becomes Old Heath Road, and the Colne Causeway bridge – the first bridge crossing the River Colne when driving from Mersea to Harwich.

“Furthermore, the town of Wivenhoe has links to the village of Rowhedge via the foot ferry.

“We acknowledge a significant portion of the Old Heath and the Hythe ward is in the existing Colchester constituency and has close community ties to the city.

“However, this is true of any of the other options, such as the Greenstead, S. Anne’s and St John’s, Highwoods, or Mile End wards.

“Old Heath and the Hythe is the only ward out of these options that has a significant portion already included in the existing Harwich and North Essex constituency.”

Prettygate and parts of Lexden and Braiswick will now remain a part of the Colchester constituency, with the report describing the wards as "integral parts of Colchester, with strong transport links, close geographical proximity, historical links and community ties regarding schools and other establishments”.

Mr Quince said: “I made quite strong representations on this, that Lexden and Braiswick and Prettygate are absolutely integral parts of Colchester."

Mr Quince said the proposals are “to a large extent” a numbers game.

“Because of the growth of Colchester, they have to reduce the size of the constituency,” he said.

“Obviously I don’t want to lose any of my constituents."

He said the Boundary Commission had acknowledged and taken into account more than 1,000 responses, before publishing a thorough report.

“As much as I don’t like the idea of losing Old Heath and the Hythe, the reality is you can look at the logic of it and it makes sense,” he said.