MPs attack proposed changes to constituencies in Lancashire
THE political map of Lancashire is being redrawn - with the county set to lose two MPs.
The radical proposals drawn up by the Boundary Commission would see the county going from 16 seats to 14 – meaning Tory MPs Nigel Evans and Ben Wallace would lose their seats.
If approved, Wyre and Preston North, Ribble Valley and Morecambe and Lunesdale constituencies would all be abolished.
Wyre would become part of a new North Lancashire seat, while Lancaster would join Morecambe, and Fleetwood would be transferred to a new Blackpool North and Fleetwood constituency.
Preston would be merged into one seat that takes in the whole of the city.
Labour MP Cat Smith, whose Lancaster and Fleetwood seat will be radically altered, branded the proposals “unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable”.
Nigel Evans said: “Common sense will prevail to devise a constituency without a surgical cut right through the Ribble Valley – my phone has been red hot with people saying ‘we will fight this’.”
Ben Wallace said that this was the start of the process, adding said: “The sadness is it’s always North Lancashire that seems to be afflicated with major change. We’ll just see how the boundaries work out.
“Who knows? No one knows!”
Out of 75 north west constituencies just 14 will be unchanged and Lancashire would have 14 MPs.
Accusations ranged from accusations that proposals were “a dog’s breakfast” to claims boundaries were being redrawn for political advantage.
If approved Wyre and Preston North, Ribble Valley and Morecambe and Lunesdale constituencies would be abolished, Lancaster would become part of a new Lancaster and Morecambe seat and Fleetwood would be transferred from Lancaster to a new Blackpool North and Fleetwood constituency.
Many of our MPs hoping to stay in parliament would face the prospect of having to scramble for prospective new seats before the next general election, including Tory Nigel Evans who has represented Ribble Valley for 25 years.
Overall the recommendations do not look set to change the colour of the political landscape massively, although Lancashire has, in the past, been renowned for having marginal constituencies in both the west and east of the county.
The aim is to even up the size of the electorate each MP serves with all constituencies having between 71,031 and 78,507 voters and to reduce the number of UK MPs by 50 to 600.
The public will have 12 weeks until December 5 to comment on the plans, which can be seen in detail on the Boundary Commission’s website at www.bce2018.org.uk. The initial recommendations are based on the December 2015 electoral roll.
There will also be five public hearings in the region, with one at Lancaster at The Storey, Meeting House Lane on Monday and Tuesday October 24 and 25.
Further consultations will follow before the Commission’s recommendations, due to come into effect in 2020, are sent to Government in September 2018.