RIBBLE Valley could lose Ribchester, Longridge and Chipping and gain Barnoldswick and Earby under proposals for a shake-up of the Parliamentary constituency revealed this week.
The proposals, published by the Boundary Commission for England, would also see alterations at the Preston end of the constituency, with the Ribble Valley contituency gaining Fishwick Ward and losing Lostock Hall and Tardy Gate to South Ribble.
Local Conservatives, led by Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, were quick to announce that they would fight the proposal to lose Ribchester Longridge and Chipping to a new Lancaster constituency as consultation period on the proposals gets under way.
The local proposals are part of the much wider “2013 Review of Parliamentary Constituency Boundaries” being carried out by The Boundary Commission for England – an independent and impartial public body which reviews all Parliamentary constituency boundaries in England every five years.
The current review – which must report to Parliament by 2013 – is being carried out under new rules laid down in the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011. These rules will mean substantial changes to Parliamentary constituencies in England including reducing the total number of constituencies from 533 to 502 and making sure that each constituency contains a similar number of registered electors, a figure set at 76,641 registered electors with a tolerance of 5% higher or lower. The existing Ribble Valley constituency already falls within that band, having 77,282 registered electors.
Conservative MP Mr Evans and senior members of Ribble Valley Conservative Association (RVCA) were quick to call for changes to the Commission’s draft proposals
Dilworth Ward councillor Ken Hind, senior vice-chairman of the RVCA, said: “We will be recommending to RVCA members that we campaign for Ribchester, Longridge and Chipping to stay with Ribble Valley, and that Fishwick Ward remains with Preston.
“Subject to the wishes of the Pendle Conservatives we would welcome Barnoldswick and Earby to the new Ribble Valley constituency.”
Coun. Hind added: “Longridge Chipping and Ribchester communities have been part of the the Ribble Valley constituency since it was created and are part of the Ribble Valley Borough Council area. There is a strong community of interest in the rural area and no common interest with Lancaster. This figures stack up and we would expect that Fishwick voters will want to remain with Preston.
“We will start a start robust campaign to ‘Keep Longridge, Ribchester and Chipping in the Ribble Valley’. In the next few days we will be putting these proposals to the Parish and Town Councils and inviting their support, requesting the public to write in to the Boundary Commission to support these amendments.
“There will be public hearings at the Tickled Trout in Preston on October 24th and 25th at which we will all be able to put our case.
Nigel Evans commented: “I support these amendments to the Boundary Commission’s proposals. Liason with local authorities is an important part of an MP’s work. To have a constituency which covers four local authoriity areas – City of Preston, Pendle, Ribble Valley and Lancaster – does not make sense. These amendments would reduce both Lancaster and Ribble Valley constituencies to cover only three local authorities.”
Ribble Valley residents are invited to have their say on proposed boundary changes over the coming months. They are outlined in full at a display in the Ribble Valley Borough Council Offices in Church Walk, Clitheroe, until Monday, December 5th. The display includes information on how residents can make their views known.
People can also register their views online at the Bounday Commission for England website: http://consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk/
Whatever boundary changes are eventually made will come into effect at the next general election.