Boundary proposalshould be dropped

NEW proposals for changes to voting boundaries have been slammed as ‘dead in the water’ by politicians.

Sunday, 21st October 2012, 7:00 am

Spen MP Mike Wood and Kirklees Liberal Democrat leader Kath Pinnock have said revised proposals for new parliamentary constituency boundaries in England are ‘doomed’ and should be dropped altogether.

Original proposals put forward by the independent Boundary Commission last September would have seen Cleckheaton, Birstall and Birkenshaw represented by a new Bradford South and Cleckheaton constituency.

Heckmondwike, Liversedge and Gomersal would have joined Mirfield and Spen would not have been recognised as a named constituency for the first time since 1885.

They were roundly condemned by Spen MP Mike Wood who launched a petition to save his constituency, and the Spenborough Guardian launched its Save Our Spen campaign.

The revised proposals published this week keep the Spen Valley as one constituency, comprising Birstall and Birkenshaw, Cleckheaton, Liversedge and Gomersal and Heckmondwike wards, and combine with Bradford wards Wyke and Royds.

Kirklees Tory leader Coun Robert Light said the new proposals were sensible and fair. He called on all local MPs and political parties to support them as being good for democracy.

He said: “The proposals are common sense which not only help to equalise electorates but help to keep towns and communities together as much as is possible.”

But Coun Pinnock said Lib Dem MPs would not vote for the plans because the Tories had not agreed to a reform of the House of Lords.

She said: “Unfortunately for the Boundary Commission and people who have put in a lot of work, it’s not going to happen. The reviewed proposals are significantly better than the originals but they still cross council boundaries which make it more difficult to put the community together.

“The whole thing was doomed from the start and I hope this is the last we will ever hear of these boundary changes.”

Mr Wood said the new proposals were better than the originals. But he said the idea was dead in the water and the government should scrap the proposals to avoid wasting more money.

He added: “The issue now hangs on whether the Lib Dems honour their promise to scupper the process in Parliament next year. They did originally support it and it is quite clear from reports this week that the Conservatives think they can sway their coalition partners back into supporting the changes.”