Ribble Valley to be carved up in radical proposals

Parliamentary changes are being considered
Parliamentary changes are being considered
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Villages across the Ribble Valley could be cut adrift while the rest of the borough forms part of a huge new parliamentary constituency if radical boundary changes are enacted.

The third and final stage of a national review that could change the shape of the country’s parliamentary boundaries, and cut the number of MPs, has started.

The Ribble Valley would see huge changes if the proposals come to fruition – with Colne, Barnoldswick and Earby among a number of wards added to a new Pendle and Ribble Valley constituency containing an estimated 73,788 voters stretching from the Forest of Bowland in the north to the outskirts of Preston in the south.

The leader of Ribble Valley Council, Coun. Ken Hind, has said Parliament should rethink the proposals to cut the number of MPs post-Brexit.

He said: “Parliament should now think post Brexit that much greater demands will be placed on its MPs as European legislation will not come from Brussels.

“Westminster will return to being the legislative hub of the nation and so it is important to reflect on changed circumstances, reject the Boundary Commission proposals and demand a return to 650 MPs.

“In parallel the House of Lords should be reduced in size and serious reform be considered, including having an elected element ,rendering it accountable to the public.

“The Parliamentary Boundary Commission proposals issued for Lancashire are a mish mash of comprises in order to balance out numbers of voters.

“The Ribble Valley constituency, one of only three in Lancashire of the optimum size set down by the Commission (75,600), has been divided into two parts, carved up as a sacrificial lamb to create the chaos of the current recommendations.”

The Ribble Valley and Pendle constituency would contain areas from three local authorities – South Ribble, Pendle and Ribble Valley boroughs.

It would form “a long sausage along the A59 from Preston to Colne.”

Coun. Hind added: “The Ribble Valley borough has been part of the same Parliamentary constituency for 40 years providing strong community ties.

“There is no community of interest between Ribble Valley and Colne, the latter is part an urban constituency with a strong proud industrial heritage, Ribble Valley is rural.

“The proposal can only have been written by someone drawing lines on a map in Whitehall who had never seriously travelled from Rimmington to Carnforth.”

Coun. Hind also said that the figures used were already out of date as the Ribble Valley continues to grow.

He added: “This is not the final result. We should protest loud and long in the last stages of public consultation at the break up of the Ribble Valley borough into two parliamentary constituencies.

“We should encourage areas like Rimmington, Gisburn, Chatburn and Downham to argue to be included in a Ribble Valley constituency as its community connections are with Clitheroe, and reject inclusion in a constituency that goes as far as Carnforth where no such links exist.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson also said he was disappointed with the proposals and would urge the Boundary Commission to look again.

The Boundary Commission for England is considering constituency areas across England as part of a periodic review of the boundaries of all Parliamentary seats.

The overall aim is to have constituencies that have between 71,031 and 78,507 people eligible to vote living in them.

In Lancashire it is proposed to reduce the number of constituencies by two, to 14.

People can go to the BCE’s website, www.bce2018.org.uk, to view the new plans we have published.

All the public comments received during the first two consultations are also published on the website.

People have until December 11th to have their say.