Huge shake-up of Central Lancashire's parliamentary boundaries proposed
Major changes have been proposed to parliamentary boundaries in Central Lancashire, which would see several areas switched from one constituency to another - and one sprawling seat abolished in its entirety.
It is part of a review of the electoral arrangements across the UK, which are due to come into effect ahead of the next general election.
The independent Boundary Commission for England has provisionally redrawn the constituency map - but is now asking for the opinion of the public and parliamentarians before settling on a final proposal.
The aim of the process is to create more equally-sized constituencies in order to ensure electoral fairness and reflect any changes in population movements since the last changes were brought in 11 years ago.
In the Lancashire Post area, the biggest change is the proposed abolition of the Wyre and Preston North seat, currently held by Tory MP and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.
His constituency would be split across three others under the proposed arrangements, with the Preston seat extending slightly north to take in Fulwood; the Ribble Valley constituency moving in from the east to absorb the Grimsargh, Goosnargh, Woodplumpton and Catforth areas; and a new Lancaster constituency taking in Garstang, St. Michael’s on Wyre and stretching west as far as Hambleton. That would create a similar seat to the one for Lancaster and Wyre that was in operation between 1997 and 2010.
The centre of gravity of the Preston constituency held by Labour’s Sir Mark Hendrick since 2000 would shift west and north. As well as absorbing Fulwood, it would lose the areas around Red Scar, Ribbleton, Fishwick and Frenchwood to Ribble Valley - while drawing in the whole of Lea and Larches and also Ingol and Cottam from the Fylde constituency.
Conservative-held South Ribble - where Katherine Fletcher won the seat in 2019 - could lose whole swathes of its western section around Banks, Hesketh Bank and Tarleton, while gaining Bamber Bridge and Farington and so becoming more closely-aligned to the borders of the South Ribble Council area.
There could be similar moves in Chorley - held by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle since 1997 - which would take in the borough council areas around Croston, Eccleston and Bretherton, but would lose Adlington and the eastern-most parts of the current constituency footprint.
Paula Keaveney, a senior lecturer in politics at Edge Hill University, said that while the general public is entitled and encouraged to respond to the consultation on the proposed changes, it is MPs “who get most worked up” about reviews such as this one.
“[That is because] there is either a change proposed to their area that they don’t like - that brings in [people] that are more anti them or they lose a bit that’s more pro them - or it puts them a position where they have to compete with a [party] colleague for [nomination to] a new seat.
“Political parties’ campaign mechanisms are generally geared around the existing constituencies or local government boundaries and when you create a new constituency, it’s actually a huge organisational task for them to recalibrate their campaigning.
“We’re talking about MPs for whom this is their main job and where a huge amount of effort has been made to get into the [seat] in the first place,” Ms. Keaveney explained.
The commission is seeking to ensure that each constituency has a voting-age population size close to the England average of just under 73,400 registered voters - usually within a range of between 69,700 and 77,000.
The commission attempts to ensure that its proposals reflect the natural shape of existing communities, but Paula Keaveney says that such an ambition is sometimes “trumped” by the need to hit a raw number of electors in a given seat.
And she advises people thinking of responding to the consultation to delve into the detail before making their own suggestions.
“Anybody who didn't like a particular boundary would have to suggest an alternative arrangement...which works for [the commission’s] criteria. You can’t just go and say you don’t like it, you’d have to have an incredibly strong argument.”
The current consultation closes on 2nd August and people can comment on anything from where the proposed new boundary lines are drawn to the names of the constituencies. There will be a further two rounds of consultation in 2022.
Tim Bowden, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, said: “Today’s proposals mark the first time people get to see what the new map of parliamentary constituencies might look like. But they are just the Commission’s initial thoughts.
“Help us draw the line to make the number of electors in each parliamentary constituency more equal. We want to hear the views of the public to ensure that we get the new boundaries for parliamentary constituencies right.”
“We consider all feedback received during the consultation process and it is your local knowledge that helps us to shape constituencies that best reflect your local area.
HAVE YOUR SAY
You can view the proposals and comment on them here.
Within each current parliamentary constituency in Central Lancashire these are the district council wards that it is proposed will be moved from one seat to another under the suggested changes (constituencies in upper case, wards in lower case):
Adlington and Anderton >>> WEST PENNINE MOORS (new seat)
Chorley North East >>> WEST PENNINE MOORS (new seat)
Ingol and Cottam >>> PRESTON
Lea and Larches (currently split between Fylde and Preston) >>> PRESTON (wholly)
Fishwick and Frenchwood >>> RIBBLE VALLEY
Ribbleton >>> RIBBLE VALLEY
Farington East >>> SOUTH RIBBLE
Farington West >>> SOUTH RIBBLE
WYRE AND PRESTON NORTH (to be abolished)
Brock with Catterall >>> LANCASTER
Cadley (currently split between WYRE & PRESTON NORTH and PRESTON >>> PRESTON (wholly)
Calder >>> LANCASTER
Garrison >>> PRESTON
Garstang >>> LANCASTER
Great Eccleston >>> LANCASTER
Greyfriars >>> PRESTON
Hambleton and Stalmine >>> LANCASTER
Preston Rural East >>> RIBBLE VALLEY
Preston Rural North >>> RIBBLE VALLEY
Sharoe Green >>> PRESTON