Leader slams ‘ab­surd’ new bound­aries plan

Rochdale Observer - - BYGONE DAYS - Da­mon.wilkin­son@men­media.co.uk @Da­monWilkin­son6

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

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