Concerns over plans to split Saddleworth parliamentary constituencies

SADDLEWORTH PARISH Council is battling against proposals to split up the area’s villages into separate parliamentary constituencies.

The Boundary Commission has recently published its re-organisation plans with the aim of saving £12 million by reducing the number of MPs and equalising constituencies to around 75,000 voters.

The changes would see Saddleworth West and Lees joined into the Failsworth and Droylsden constituency while the remainder of Saddleworth would form part of the Littleborough and Saddleworth constituency.

p5-boundary-commission-constituency-proposals-2016But the plans to split Saddleworth have been criticised by the Parish Council.

At their meeting in September Cllr Paul Fryer put for forward a motion calling for the Council to oppose the recommendations which would result in Saddleworth being split between two parliamentary constituencies.

He said: “The inclusion of parts of Saddleworth in a constituency with Droylsden does not make sense. It should be kept as one area.”

Cllr Neil Allsopp proposed an amendment to the motion, supporting the Boundary Commission’s recommendations for a Saddleworth and Littleborough constituency but calling for them to reconsider splitting up Saddleworth.

He said: “I have not met one single resident who would oppose a reformation of the Saddleworth and Littleborough constituency. But keeping Saddleworth whole would be much better.”

Cllr Barbara Beeley, who is also chair of the Springhead Community Association, said: “This Parish border has been the same more or less since 1937, with a few slight tweaks.

“Grotton, Springhead and Lees view themselves as Saddleworth and want to stay as part of the area. They have little in common with the likes of Droylsden and Failsworth.”

Cllr Rob Knotts added: “It does not make sense for Saddleworth to be broken up. Saddleworth and Littleborough are both rural areas and completely different to Oldham.”

Cllr Alan Belmore noted that the new Littleborough and Saddleworth constituency would have a reduced overall Labour majority, and benefit the Conservative party.

He insisted: “It appears political parties’ support for the new boundaries depends on whether it helps them or not. As a Parish Council, we should be focused on keeping Saddleworth together, not helping one party over another.”

Current MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams, said: “The proposals are devastating for Oldham and Saddleworth. We have been carved apart purely in order to meet the Electoral Commission’s size requirements.

“The recommendation in 2011 left the borough with the ‘left overs’ splitting historic communities, and this is no better.

“The current number of registered voters easily allows for two whole constituencies within the borough which respect historic towns and community ties.

“These proposals are once again an insult to the people of Oldham and could have a divisive effect on our community’s representation in Parliament.”


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