Mixed reaction to plans for constituency boundary changes in East Lancashire (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Mixed reaction to plans for constituency boundary changes in East Lancashire
A ‘FURIOUS’ MP has hit out at plans to re-draw parliamentary boundaries in East Lancashire — splitting Hyndburn into three new Commons seats.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones has vowed to fight the plans he claims are a Tory attempt to ‘gerrymander’ a victory at the next General Election.
Revised proposals from the Boundary Commission, which will affect all of England and Wales, would see the Hyndburn seat wiped from the map, with parts moving to Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Burnley. Blackburn would remain largely the same while Darwen would be joined with part of Bolton.
New constituencies of Bolton North and Darwen, Burnley and Accrington East and Rossendale and Oswaldtwistle would be created.
Labour’s Mr Jones said: “I am appalled that Hyndburn is being carved up in this way. It’s ridiculous. The people of Hyndburn deserve one MP to represent them not being pushed into three separate seats.
“This is just Tory gerrymandering to try and fiddle a win at the next election.
“I shall be joining the Liberal Democrats in opposing attempts to bring these new boundaries in for the next election in 2015.”
Initial proposals, first revealed in September last year, have been drastically rethought.
Those proposals would have seen three East Lancashire constituencies – Hyndburn, Rossendale and Darwen, and Pendle – wiped off the political map.
But after a year-long consultation period major changes have been revealed. The proposals will now go to Parliament for approval.
Darwen and Rossendale MP Jake Berry has given a cautious welcome to the new boundary proposals for his constituency, saying they are immeasurably better than previous plans which would have created two Labour seats out of a Tory/Labour marginal.
Darwen goes in with posh parts of Bolton while Rossendale Borough is pushed in with parts of Hyndburn leaving both winnable for the Tories.
Mr Berry said: “It has always been my view that the best thing for Darwen and Rossendale would be to remain the same as there is a natural link between the two areas having been together electorally speaking for 28 years.
“I gave evidence to the boundary commission saying that it was frankly bizarre to split Darwen from Lower Darwen and I am sorry they have not seen sense. Everyone I have spoken to in Lower Darwen is horrified to be going in with Blackburn and frankly I don’t blame them.
“Putting Darwen with North Bolton makes more sense than the previous proposals, here in Darwen we often look to Bolton and Manchester for both shopping and to work. A link with North Bolton makes more sense than one with Accrington and I am glad the commission has listened to my arguments in this area.”
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said: “I’m delighted that that the boundary commission have listened to my appeal and the call of my constituents to keep Ribble Valley intact. Longridge, Chipping and Ribchester are back in the constituency, so three cheers for that. I’m really, really pleased.”
He added: “I think it’s 50/50 whether it happens or not. If the Lib Dems don’t support it, then it’s not going anywhere. However, some other deal may be able to be done.”
Chief executive of the East Lancs Chamber of Commerce Mike Damms said: “I think generally business people won’t take a view on the number of MPs representing an area, but they will want that MP to be local enough to understand the area. East Lancashire has always been a little difficult politically as places like Darwen and Rossendale do not fit well together as economies.”
Under the plans – likely to be vetoed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, delaying them till at least the 2020 poll – Pendle is virtually recreated with a bit of Burnley.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle is planning to fight Burnley and Accrington East if the proposals became a reality and promised to join Mr Jones in opposing them.
The new-look constituencies
Beardwood with Lammack
Livesey with Pleasington
Shadsworth with Whitebirk
Bolton North and Darwen
North Turton with Tockholes
Tonge with the Haulgh
Burnley and Accrington East
Coal Clough with Deerplay
Daneshouse with Stoneyholme
Hapton with Park
Rosegrove with Lowerhouse
Rosehill with Burnley Wood
Whittlefield with Ightenhill
Cliviger with Worsthorne
Blacko and Higherford
Higham and Pendleside
Old Laund Booth
Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley
Alston and Hothersall
Billington and Old Langho
Bowland, Newton and Slaidburn
Clayton-le-Dale with Ramsgreave
Derby and Thornley
Edisford and Low Moor
Read and Simonstone
Waddington and West Bradford
Wiswell and Pendleton
Bamber Bridge East
Bamber Bridge North
Bamber Bridge West
Coupe Green and Gregson Lane
Samlesbury and Walton
Rossendale and Oswaldtwistle
Facit and Shawforth
Healey and Whitworth
Adlington and Anderton
Astley and Buckshaw
Brindle and Hoghton
Chorley North East
Chorley North West
Chorley South East
Chorley South West
Clayton-le-Woods and Whittle-le-Woods
Clayton-le-Woods West and Cuerden
Eccleston and Mawdesley
Heath Charnock and Rivington
Wheelton and Withnell
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