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MPs hit back at proposals to change Tameside boundaries
Thursday 26th October 2017 @ 11:33 by Lee Wild
News Tameside

A political war of words has broken out over proposed boundary changes to Tameside’s constituencies.

The borough’s MPs have branded the moves Tory ‘gerrymandering’ to favour the Conservatives in a future election.

But local lead Conservative Cllr John Bell supports the plans, stating present constituencies are biased to Labour.

Changes to constituency boundaries could be set to affect hundreds of thousands of voters across Tameside.

Under new proposals, the ‘Ashton-under-Lyne Borough’ constituency will move east, losing parts of Droylsden and Failsworth to a new ‘Failsworth and Droylsden’ constituency, but gaining Mossley and Stalybridge from the current ‘Stalybridge and Hyde’ constituency.

Hyde, Gee Cross and Hattersley will merge with parts of the ‘Hazel Grove’ constituency to form the new ‘Marple and Hyde’ constituency.

In ‘Denton and Reddish’, Audenshaw will break off to join the new ‘Failsworth and Droylsden’ constituency while Dukinfield joins the redrawn Ashton constituency. North Stockport will join with Denton to create a ‘Stockport North and Denton constituency.

The proposed changes aim to reduce the number of MPs in the Houses of Parliament from 650 to 600 and the North West will lose seven MPs, from 75 to 68. Greater Manchester would lose three MP’s from the current 42 to 39.

By law, every constituency must contain between 71,031 and 78,507 “electors” and the Boundary Commission for England say that where possible they have tried to “retain existing constituencies” and have regarded “geographic factors.”

But Ashton MP and Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said she was disappointed by the report, which she branded Conservative “gerrymandering.”

She said: “I am opposed to the principle of the boundary changes as it is a shameless attempt by the Tories to gerrymander the constituencies in a way that favour their party in a General Election.

“Though to be frank, even if I wasn’t opposed to the principle I would definitely have concerns about the proposals the Boundary Commission has come up with. The proposals sever community ties in many areas and combine local government wards with little in common.

“They have also been drawn up using the figures from an old electoral register which excludes many people who registered for the EU referendum and most recent General Election.

“I will be firmly opposing these flawed Tory proposals.

“I love representing all parts of my constituency of Ashton, Droylsden and Failsworth and will fight to preserve it in its current form.”

Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne was similarly displeased with the proposals: “Rather than rushing through plans which were put together before the UK’s decision to leave the EU, which will lead to increased workloads for all MPs as we’ll be scrapping 83 MEPs, I believe we should instead have a fresh review on the current 650 Members of Parliament and involve all parties in the process.

“Theresa May wants to sneak these changes through, which incidentally would have given her the majority she craved at the General Election in June, without any cross-party consensus.

“I don’t believe this is the best way forward and I’m not sure that this Parliament will sign off on these measures. However, I’m very pleased that the Boundary Commission proposals have kept much of the Denton & Reddish constituency intact reflecting the long-standing connection between South West Tameside and North Stockport.”

Cllr John Bell, leader of the Conservatives in Tameside, supported the plans.

He said: “The whole reasoning behind this is that currently the whole of the electoral constituency boundaries are biased towards Labour.

“Personally I support the proposals. I know what the council will say, the parliamentary boundaries will be across three councils, but does that really matter? More important is the parliamentary boundaries are fair and equally proportioned per population.”

Final recommendations from the Boundary Review will be submitted to Parliament in September 2018, before being debated in the House.