Ribble Valley: Special meeting on wards impact of Westminster boundary shake-up

Plans to place Clitheroe, Whalley, Sabden and neighbouring areas into a brand-new Westminster MP parliamentary constituency with parts of Pendle will be discussed by Ribble Valley councillors at a special meeting.

Ribble Valley Council has called for special talks to discuss latest recommendations from the Boundary Commission for England, to put 10 borough wards into a new Pendle and Clitheroe constituency.

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The proposed wards are Chatburn, East Whalley, Read and Simonstone, Edisford and Low Moor, Littlemoor, Primrose, Sabden, Salthill, St Mary’s, Whalley and Painter Wood and Wiswell and Barrow.

Plans to place Clitheroe, Whalley, Sabden and neighbouring areas into a brand-new parliamentary constituency with parts of Pendle are being discussed today

The boundary commission recommendations also say that 11 other wards from the Preston and South Ribble boroughs should be put into a new, re-shaped Ribble Valley parliamentary constituency.

They are Greyfriars, Preston Rural East, Preston Rural North, Sharoe Green, Bamber Bridge East, Bamber Bridge West, Coupe Green & Gregson Lane, Lostock Hall, Samlesbury & Walton, Walton-le-Dale East and Walton-le-Dale West.

Earlier boundary commission ideas to locate three Ribble Valley wards of Ribbleton, East Whalley, Read and Simonstone, and Whalley and Painter Wood into a reshaped Hyndburn seat have been replaced by the latest proposals.

The commission’s ideas have been revised following phases of feedback. One more period of consultation is running until December 5 this year.

Borough councillors on Ribble Valley’s Policy and Finance Committee have created a working group to look at the recommendations. Its members are Conservative Coun. Stephen Atkinson, who is also the leader of the council; Lib-Dem group leader Coun. Stewart Fletcher, and Conservative councillors Mark Hindle and David Peat. They are meeting on Monday and will then pass their comments to the special committee meeting on Tuesday night.

A report to the committee states: “The Boundary Commission for England is undertaking an independent review of all constituencies as requested by Parliament. The number of electors within each constituency currently varies widely, due to population changes since the last boundary review.

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“The review will rebalance the number of electors each MP represents, resulting in significant change to the existing constituency map. As part of the review, the number of constituencies in England will increase from 533 to 543. Each must contain a number of electors that is no smaller than 69,724 and no larger than 77,062.”

The Ribble Valley report states the commission’s review must consider factors such as:

special geographical considerations, including the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency. Local government boundaries which exist or are planned. boundaries of existing constituencies. any local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies and any inconveniences with such changes.

The boundary commission uses wards in district and borough council areas, or electoral divisions in unitary authorities, as the basic building block for designing constituencies, the Ribble Valley report adds.

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It states: “Wards are well-defined and well-understood units, which are generally indicative of areas which have a broad community of interest. Any division of a ward between constituencies would risk breaking local ties, as well as adding complexity in administering a parliamentary election.”

The boundary commission is a politically independent and impartial body, the Ribble Valley report adds. It emphasises very strongly that existing voting patterns and the prospective fortunes of political parties should not and do not enter its considerations during a review.

The special meeting is at Ribble Valley Council’s chamber in Clitheroe today at 6-30pm.