Leader slams ‘absurd’ new boundaries plan
PLANS to split Rochdale’s parliamentary constituency in two have been slammed as ‘absurd’ by council leader Richard Farnell.
This week the Boundary Commission published revised proposals which will see the constituency significantly altered.
It comes after a review of electoral boundaries ordered under former Prime Minister David Cameron, which seeks to cut the number of MPs by 50 to 600.
The government says it wants to make each person’s vote of similar worth by ensuring the number of registered voters in each constituency is between 71,031 and 78,507.
At the last election the number of registered voters in Rochdale was 72,530.
But the Boundary Commission’s proposals, published this week, would see Rochdale carved up as a result of proposed changes elsewhere in Greater Manchester.
The new Rochdale seat would include five wards from Liz McInnes’ existing Heywood and Middleton constituency (Norden, Bamford, Castleton, West Heywood and North Heywood) which would join Spotland and Falinge, Healey, Central Rochdale, Milkstone and Deeplish and Kingsway.
But Wardle and West Littleborough, Littlebor- ough Lakeside, Smallbridge and Firgrove, Milnrow and Newhey and Balderstone and Kirkholt would no longer come under Rochdale and would instead be incorporated into a new Littleborough and Saddleworth constituency.
Coun Farnell said the move would mean Rochdale was ‘broken up into new artificial constituencies where its residents have little in common’.
He added: “These are absurd proposals. I’m not sure what the good folk of Kirkholt have in common with the la-de-da people of Saddleworth?
“There is no need to change the borough’s two constituents. They are a good fit in terms of size of electorate. It’s also much better when constituencies do not overlap borough council boundaries.
“However, It’s all rather academic. Following the general election, the Tories don’t have a majority to push through these controversial proposals. Rather than reducing the number of elected MPs, they should instead cull some of the 800 unelected members of the House of Lords.”
A report from the Boundary Commission states the changes to the Rochdale and Heywood and Middleton constituencies are proposed to ‘accommodate changes elsewhere’.
But it is uncertain whether the Commons will end up backing the detailed plans.
If they do so, the proposed new constituencies - recommended by independent bodies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - will take effect in 2022, the scheduled date of the next election.
However, there are doubts whether MPs will agree to the plans.
●●Council leader Richard Farnell (inset) has criticised Boundary Commission plans to split Rochdale’s parliamentary constituency in two