Burnley Labour Party has been considering for some time the possible outcomes of the Boundary Commission Report. We will obviously be discussing now in greater detail with our party colleagues in particular in East Lancashire what the proposals exactly mean.
We obviously regret that Burnley as a single constituency since 1868 will no longer exist and has been split in two. We do, however, welcome that it has not been proposed that Burnley should split three ways and the name Burnley be eliminated totally.
It is amazing to see that Gordon Birtwistle claims never to have been in support of any of this. He also claims we will be the centre of two constituencies and that is totally misleading.
As Burnley’s MP and member of one of the Government Coalition parties he clearly must accept the responsibility for this position. His Government forced through the Bill which had two parts. One part gave us the referendum in May to change the voting system – a proposal which was massively defeated by the people of Burnley and this country.
The second part of that Bill proposed to reduce the number of MPs to 600 and that each constituency should be within a 5% tolerance figure of the new quota of electors for each seat Labour proposed 10% which would have allowed for less boundary changes but that was rejected at each stage by the Government parties.
That meant Burnley could not survive without a major change as our electorate is too small.
The problem now is that if any change is made in the proposals another change has to be made to compensate for it and that causes a ripple effect and a mass of other changes.
The Yorkshire boundary as a regional boundary is rigid as it is the regional constituency boundary for Euro-MPs. The Conservative Party’s main objective for these changes is to give them a better chance of winning the next election and their poodles the Lib-Dems will pay a big price for going along with this proposal.
While it is right there is a consultation period it will not be an easy exercise and while it is a pity to see Burnley split I, and Burnley Labour Party, would not wish to see it split three ways between Pendle, Hyndburn and Rossendale which is another option!
Leader of Burnley Labour Party and former MP and council leader