MPs express concern and surprise over proposed boundary changes
There are furrowed brows among local politicians about the plans unveiled this week by the Boundary Commission for England (BCE).
The BCE's report on its 2023 review of parliamentary constituencies recommended a number of significant changes to the Makerfield and Leigh constituencies.
And the proposed alterations have not got down well with the politicians currently representing those areas in the House of Commons.
While Leigh MP James Grundy pledged to found a “Keep Leigh in Leigh” campaign in response to some of the BCE’s suggestions.
He expressed concern about Leigh West moving into the Makerfield constituency, with Ashton going the other way, and about Astley Mosley Common leaving the proposed Leigh South and Atherton constituency.
Conservative politician Mr Grundy also predicted residents would not like the BCE’s proposals and hoped a cross-party response could be formulated.
Ms Fovargue said: “I will look very carefully at the initial proposals and seek to understand the Boundary Commission’s rationale.
“However, it is surprising that a town that bears the name of the constituency Makerfield and is integral to the constituency’s identity should find itself in a new constituency.
“I hope that people will put forward their views to the Boundary Commission as the consultation period begins.”
Mr Grundy said: “While I welcome some aspects of these proposals, particularly the unification of Atherton within a single constituency, and recognising the town of Atherton within the constituency name, there are some severe flaws within the proposals overall.
“The Leigh constituency as it is now has grown considerably since the last review, due to vast amounts of new development in the area, and as a consequence needs to be reduced in size. However, splitting Leigh unequally between two constituencies is not the right approach.
"Taking the Leigh West ward from Leigh and putting it in Makerfield in exchange for Ashton ward creates an absurd situation, where you have a Leigh seat where large parts of Leigh town centre would be in a seat made up primarily of Wigan suburbs, and a Makerfield seat without Ashton in Makerfield.
“I predict these proposals will generate strong community opposition on that basis alone.
“This is why I will be strongly advocating for my constituents in the Leigh West ward to remain within the Leigh constituency where they naturally belong, and for Ashton to remain in the Makerfield seat.
“I also have concerns regarding the proposed boundary between Astley and Tyldesley.
“The boundary as proposed splits Astley between two constituencies, the Leigh seat and the Worsley seat. While this is currently a ward boundary, it is not a natural one.
“I have reached out to both the Labour MP for Makerfield, Yvonne Fovargue, and a senior local Labour councillor in the hope that, just as the last time the Commission proposed a similar split of Leigh, we can present a united front from all political parties on this issue.
“I’ll be fighting to ‘Keep Leigh in Leigh’, and I hope everyone locally, of whatever political persuasion, will back me to the hilt on this, and fight with me to keep our town together.”
The BCE’s review is working to rules which have set down the minimum and maximum number of electors in each constituency, apart from a handful of geographical exceptions.
An eight-week consultation period has now been launched and runs until August 2.
Residents are being encouraged to have their say at the online portal www.bcereviews.org.uk
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