MP slams boundary change plan at meeting

Save our Spen!
Save our Spen!

SPEN MP Mike Wood has told the Boundary Commission For England he is ‘aghast’ at plans to break up the parliamentary consistency.

Mr Wood, who also represents Batley and Birstall, spoke at yesterday’s public consultation meeting in Leeds, into the commission’s radical plans to change how the area is represented in Westminster.

He was joined by local people who also voiced their opposition to plans, amid fears that the changes would mean two MPs representing Spen.

“Like many local people I am aghast at the severity of these proposals. If they go ahead Batley will be split across three constituencies and Spen across two,” said Mr Wood.

“Local people want Batley to be represented by one MP and Spen Valley to be represented by one MP. Whether or not they’re together is less of an issue but it would make sense given the geographic make up of some the local wards.”

Cleckheaton, Scholes and Hunsworth would be absorbed by a new South Bradford constituency, while Heckmondwike, Liversedge, Gomersal and surrounding villages would become part of a new Mirfield patch.

Mr Wood added: “These proposals are designed to secure short term political advantage for the present government irrespective of the damage that will be done to local identity and sensible and effective representation.

“The risk is that fewer people will vote or engage with political and democratic processes.

“There is also the historical significance bound up with this constituency – the name Spen will vanish from Parliament for the first time since 1885 and Batley for the first time since World War I.”

Meanwhile, former Heckmondwike and Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik, who lost his seat during last year’s election, said he will not contest the proposed new Mirfield seat.

Under Labour party rules, Mary Creagh would be viewed as the sitting MP for the Dewsbury and Wakefield West seat, and Mr Wood would be the sitting MP for the Mirfield seat.

l A copy of Mr Wood’s petition, against the proposals is available at his office in Cross Crown Street, Cleckheaton, and at the Spenborough Guardian office at 1 Market Street, Cleckheaton.