A PETITION has been set up against proposals to redraw the political map for East Lancashire’s parliamentary constituencies.

Under the plans, the Ribble Valley seat would lose three wards (Whalley and Painter Wood; East Whalley Read and Simonstone; and Langho and Billington) to Hyndburn, while Hyndburn would lose Haslingden to the new West Pennine Moors constituency.

The proposals, published by the Boundary Commission, would see the new map come into force by 2024, ensuring all constituencies have an even number of voters between them.

Now subject to two rounds of public consultation, the plans have been slammed by many people living in the Ribble Valley, and not just those in the affected areas.

Ribble Valley county councillor and borough councillor for Whalley and Painter Wood, Cllr Ged Mirfin, set up a petition.

Cllr Mirfin said: “Unfortunately the map makers in London who appear totally disconnected from reality have proposed including iconic parts of the Ribble Valley in an extended Hyndburn Parliamentary Constituency.

“Can I encourage residents of the Ribble Valley to sign this petition saying no to this ludicrous proposal which will surgically remove iconic parts of the beating heart of the borough and place them into another constituency along with Accrington, which shares little of the identity of the Ribble Valley and certainly does not have the same concerns.”

The petition, which was created on Tuesday, has amassed more than 1,000 signatures and hundreds of comments.

David Wilson said: “I can see no connection between Whalley and Hyndburn.

"There are clearly shared history and values between Whalley and Clitheroe that should be maintained.”

While Richard Dugdale said: “We are a rural market town community and should not be connected to an industrial area such as Hyndburn.

“We have nothing in common and will be bad for each other with differing needs.”

Cllr Mirfin said people move to the Ribble Valley to get away from the urban sprawl of places like Accrington and as a consequence have nothing in common with the people living in those areas.

He continued: “What this is doing is depriving people of a voice and I hope the authorities recognise this. Moving boundaries on a map to balance population is dangerous, particularly when they have little or no understanding of local identity and a sense of what’s important to people.

“Trying to put part of the Ribble Valley into an area where there’s no shared concerns is dangerous.

“Someone in a dimly lit room somewhere in London is trying to balance figures on a map and is failing.”

The proposals have also angered MP for the Ribble Valley, Nigel Evans, who has represented the area since 1992.

Earlier in the week, Mr Evans said he was ‘hugely disappointed’ at the proposal to move the East Whalley, Read and Simonstone, Whalley and Painter Wood, and Billington and Langho wards into Hyndburn where they would increase his Conservative colleague Sara Britcliffe’s chances of keeping her seat.

Mr Evans said: “I’m hugely disappointed at the proposals that would see large parts of the Ribble Valley being carved up, with several villages being taken by a neighbouring constituency. These villages are a core part of the Ribble Valley.”

Also commenting on the petition, Giorgina Cancelliere said: “Whalley is a popular destination in the Ribble Valley and has blended values and issues with other areas of the Ribble Valley.

“The needs of the area are completely different to those of areas already within Hyndburn.

“It’s a nonsensical move that I’m sure the actual residents of the area are not happy about. Has anyone bothered to ask?”

And Catherine Duckworth·said: “I’m signing because the changes make no sense - it splits two parts of Whalley, separates Wiswell and Barrow from Whalley and Billington. Senseless waste of money.”

While Carol Shillitoe said: “Stop trying to change boundaries just to enhance you election chances, if you don’t get in as it stands, you don’t deserve to get in power.”

The consultation period lasts until August 2.

An interactive map of the proposals and how to respond can be found here bcereviews.org.uk/node/6487 To sign Cllr Mirfin's petition visit the website change.org