Wigan borough boundary review U-turn welcomed

Strong opposition to the boundary review in Wigan has seen plans take a U-turn and keep Ashton in Makerfield and Leigh Town Hall in Leigh.

The original proposals from the Boundary Commission for England saw Ashton and Leigh West wards swapped in political constituencies – meaning in a general election some people from Leigh would not be voting for the Leigh MP and Ashton residents not voting for the Makerfield MP.

Instead the wards of Atherleigh and Leigh West, which contains Leigh Town Hall and large parts of the town centre, would be split to keep Leigh’s electorate below the maximum below the permitted range, the boundary report said.

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The areas of Dangerous Corner and Pickley Green will be included in the proposed Makerfield constituency, which will remain unchanged apart from the addition of these communities.

The public has a chance now to comment on revisions

Responding to the revised proposals to Parliamentary boundaries in the Wigan borough, Yvonne Fovargue, MP for Makerfield, said: “I am really pleased that the Boundary Commission have reconsidered their initial proposal to place Ashton in Makerfield in a revised Leigh seat.

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“It came as no surprise to me that local people would strongly resist this move and I am glad that common sense has prevailed.”

Atherton and the immediate area around was included in the Bolton West constituency. Now, after Leigh MP James Grundy’s "Keep Leigh in Leigh” was recognised by the commission, Leigh West would remain in his constituency and Atherton would join it, in what would be known as the Leigh and Atherton Borough Constituency.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue.

The alternative option was to split the constituency through the new Hindley Green, and Atherton South and Lilford wards, but the commission felt they were very similar to the existing polling district boundary and closely aligns with Westleigh Brook, the review states. So the commission’s rationale for splitting the polling district of Atherleigh and Leigh West in this way would actually only be splitting a single incoming ward, Leigh West.

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Mr Grundy said: "I strongly welcome the revised proposals to keep the town of Leigh broadly united in a single seat. The proposals to exchange Westleigh for part of Ashton-in-Makerfield were strongly opposed by both communities.

"I am very glad that my Keep Leigh in Leigh campaign has proven successful, with broad public support from the people of Leigh.

"I also welcome the rejection of Labour proposals to split Atherton in two and replace Lowton and Golborne with Hindley and Hindley Green, which was nothing but a partisan and outrageous gerrymandering attempt.

Leigh MP James Grundy
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"The proposed new Leigh and Atherton constituency is a great improvement on the proposed Leigh South and Atherton seat, but Astley and Gin Pit village are still confusingly split between Leigh and Salford, and there is some tidying up to do on the western boundary.

"I hope the Boundary Commission will address these remaining concerns in the final phase of the review, and I'd like to thank the huge number of ordinary people from Leigh and the surrounding communities that have backed my campaign so far."

The report read: “We acknowledge the issues caused by the initial proposals here and that they are deeply unpopular as a number of local ties would be broken.

“We accept their rationale for the splitting of the two wards, noting that this will, in practice, only split one incoming ward, and maintain the existing centres of Ashton and Leigh within their respective constituencies, without producing a negative domino effect across the west of Greater Manchester.”

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The Wigan constituency would remain "wholly unchanged” as a result of this review, with just a few council wards changing in size.

The final consultation on this review ends on December 5, 2022.After that a final report would be sent to parliament and published by July 1, 2023 with the findings and recommendations.