BOUNDARY Commission bosses are looking again at controversial changes to East Lancashire’s Parliamentary constituencies after a furious reaction to the plans.
The proposals which would split Burnley, Accrington and Rawtenstall in half when voters next go to the polls in 2015 were branded “a nonsense” when they were revealed last September.
Now after seven months of consultation the experts in charge are examining the proposed boundaries with a view to redrawing them after the angry criticism that the new seats paid no attention to existing community identities and local authority boundaries.
A special team of assessors for the North-West are now considering the responses to two consultations held for 12 weeks last year and another four this year, paying special attention to East Lancashire’s near-universal opposition to the plans.
New proposals will be drawn up over the summer and published this Autumn for a final consultation before the final plans for England are published by the end of next year for the 2015 General Election.
The Boundary Commission for England has to cut the current 533 seats to 502, shedding seven of the North-West’s 75.
In East Lancashire, Blackburn and Chorley constituencies would remain largely unchanged but Burnley would be split in two with the new parts combined with either Nelson or Accrington.
Hyndburn would vanish with a new Darwen and Haslingden seat created, Rawtenstall would be merged with North Rochdale and Ribble Valley would be redrawn including parts of Pendle and Preston.
A Commission spokesperson said: “We will be paying attention to what people said in the consultation, particularly in relation to East Lancashire.’’ The news has been welcomed across the political spectrum with Ribble Valley Tory MP Nigel Evans saying: “I am glad the commission is in listening mode because the people to Ribble Valley do not want their constituency redrawn.”
Graham Jones, Labour MP for Hyndburn said: “I think the Commission must understand that the people of Burnley and Hyndburn have had their own MP since 1885. They do not want new constituencies that pay no attention to local community identities and council boundaries. I welcome this move.”
Burnley Liberal Democrat MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “The Boundary Commission’s original proposals did not fulfil their brief. I am pleased that they are looking at it again.”