New hope for Spen in boundary plans?

a CLASH in the coalition government has given some hope to those fighting boundary changes in Spen.

After Prime Minister David Cameron said plans to reform the House of Lords would be scrapped, LibDem leader Nick Clegg announced his party would withdraw support for the Boundary Commission proposals.

The proposals would see Cleckheaton, Birstall and Birkenshaw represented by a new Bradford South and Cleckheaton constituency, while Heckmondwike, Liversedge and Gomersal would join Mirfield. Spen would not be 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.

Dan Howard, who stood for Labour in Cleckheaton at this year’s local election, submitted his own proposal to the Boundary Review keeping Batley and Spen together.

He said: “The ideal situation for Spen Valley is that the proposals are thrown out, regardless of how and when this happens. If not, we’ll see the break-up of all these areas and the left over parts scattered among new, disparate seats providing for poorer representation and weaker democracy.

“The Boundary Commission’s own plans, and those of the LibDems, would break up the Spen Valley and the town of Batley while the Conservative plans would keep Spen together but merge us with parts of Bradford instead of Batley.

“The LibDems’ belated u-turn may now make stopping the process a possibility. The Conservatives however say they are determined to press ahead.

“The question is, can we trust Lib Dem MPs – previously so keen to support this process – to see through their threat and scupper it?”

Cleckheaton councillor John Lawson said he and fellow LibDem councillors wanted to keep Batley and Spen together.

“The Commission proposals would make the idea of community in the Spen Valley and Batley meaningless. It’s not broken, so there’s no need to fix it,” he said.

However Coun Robert Light, Kirklees Conservatives’ leader said: “Things haven’t changed from when these plans were announced.

“The commission will still produce its proposals and I hope it will listen to what has been said to them.

“We don’t need this uncertainty in the area; whether they’re places of small population or a large one, it needs sorting.”