Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley voting areas could be carved up

MPs Julie Cooper, Nigel Evans and Andrew Stephenson

Voters in parts of Burnley could be voting for an MP in a new Accrington constituency if Boundary Commission proposals are accepted.

The proposed changes, drawn up by the Boundary Commission for England in a bid to reduce the number of MPs and 'equalise' constituencies, would see Gawthorpe, Hapton with Park (covering Padiham) and Rosegrove with Lowerhouse wards merged into what is now Hyndburn, with the constituency name changed to Accrington.

Burnley meanwhile, in addition to the change mentioned above, would extend northwards to include eight wards from the existing Pendle constituency including the town of Nelson.

The third and final stage of the national review that could change the shape of the country’s parliamentary boundaries was released today.

The third stage proposals, released late last year, which have not changed for East Lancashire, attracted opposition from local MPs, Burnley Labour MP Julie Cooper, Conservative Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Ribble Valley counterpart Nigel Evans.

Mrs Cooper said: “I would reiterate that these changes are unnecessary and unwelcome. They were originally the brain child of David Cameron.

“He said that he wanted to reduce the number of MPs to reduce the costs of democracy and then he went on to increase the number of very expensive unelected Lords. It was all clearly a PR gimmick.

“I am really proud to represent all the people of Burnley and Padiham. I am really upset at the prospect of losing Hapton and Padiham to Accrington and the proposal to take Rosegrove with Lowerhouse out of Burnley makes no sense at all.

“To split Burnley in this way is totally illogical. The residents of all these three wards feel no connection with Accrington at all.

“The current situation where the constituency boundary is coterminous with the borough boundary makes absolute sense and I will be fighting to maintain the status quo.”

If the proposals are accepted by MPs in a parliamentary vote, the number of MPs would be reduced from 650 to 600.

Mr Stephenson said: “I am all in favour of reducing the number of MPs and equalising the current unfair distribution of voters in constituencies as they are now.

“However, I think the Boundary Commission has got it wrong regarding Pendle and the Ribble Valley. It would create a new constituency stretching from Preston to Earby which would be almost impossible for one MP to represent.

“I have significant reservations about these proposals which have not changed from last year, despite lots of local opposition. The Boundary Commission has basically drawn circles around the large urban areas of Lancashire and split the rest.”

A date has yet to be set for MPs to vote on the proposals.

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