MP Debbie Abrahams criticises “devastating” new constituency boundary proposals

MP Debbie Abrahams has labelled new parliamentary boundaries proposals “devastating” for Oldham and Saddleworth.

Debbie Abrahams MP

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has unveiled the plans as it looks to reduce the number of constituencies in the UK from 650 to 600 and ensure each has roughly the same number of voters.

Saddleworth North, Saddleworth South, Saddleworth West and Lees would be with Shaw and Crompton, Balderstone and Kirkholt, Littleborough Lakeside, Milnrow and Newhey, Smallbridge and Firgrove and Wardle and West Littleborough to form the Littleborough and Saddleworth County Constituency.

A Saddleworth and Littleborough constituency previously existed until 1997, and Littleborough is currently in the Rochdale ward under Labour MP Tony Lloyd.

The new Oldham Borough constituency would cover Chadderton North, Chadderton Central and Chadderton South, Coldhurst, Royton North and Royton South, St James, Waterhead and Moston.

Alexandra, Hollinwood, Medlock Vale, St Mary’s, Werneth and Failsworth East and West would join with Audenshaw and Droylsden East and West from Tameside to form the Failsworth and Droylsden constituency.

Two consultations have been held already and the latest proposals have now been put forward following written and oral feedback and comments from the public.

The proposals have been criticised by Mrs Abrahams, Labour’s MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

She said: “The Boundary Commission have published their revised proposals but I believe they are still unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable.

“Whilst it is encouraging to see the commissioners have agreed to unite the Saddleworth wards as I lobbied, I believe the proposals are devastating for Oldham and Saddleworth as it breaks up the constituency and direct links with local authority boundaries.

“In my view it is essential that Oldham and Saddleworth has a coherent settlement in the boundary review; something that’s still missing in these proposals.

“The proposals are also based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters missing.

“Planning to reduce the number of MPs at the same time as appointing hundreds of extra Peers to the Lords shows this review is designed for the Tories’ own political advantage rather what is in the best interests of the country.”

She added: “Much of the work we have done locally is about building strong integrated communities.

“But these proposals are an insult to the people of Oldham and Saddleworth and could have a divisive effect on our community’s representation in Parliament.

“I will continue to work constructively to try and ensure the final outcome reflects the identity of communities within Oldham and Saddleworth.”

Labour councillor Nikki Kirkham, chair of Saddleworth Parish Council, said: “It is a shame the boundaries have to change so much.

“It will make Saddleworth part of a very large constituency and that will put more pressure on the MP.

“However, the saving grace is that Saddleworth is being kept together as one area, rather than split as in the initial proposals.”

Saddleworth White Rose Society, had welcomed the new proposals.

They were deeply concerned by the initial plans and submitted an alternative arrangement to the Commission.

Geoff Bayley, spokesperson for the society, said: “In 2004 the White Rose Society played an important role in maintaining Saddleworth’s unity when proposals planned to split Springhead from the rest of the parish.

“The Society’s proposals for the present three wards in Saddleworth were submitted to the Boundary Commission and subsequently adopted in their entirety.

“We are delighted that, once again, the Commission have listened to our concerns and adopted our proposals for maintaining the unity of Saddleworth.”

The plans are available to view online and residents have until December 11 to have their say: www.bce2018.org.uk

 

 

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