ALL wards in Ribble Valley Borough Council will remain in the Parliamentary constituency according to revised proposals for new constituencies in England published on Tuesday.
The independent Boundary Commission for England, whose task is to ensure every MP represents a similar number of people (electorate between 72,810 and 80,473), set out its initial proposals in September last year.
They proposed the break up of Pendle, with Barnoldswick and Earby being moved into a Ribble Valley constituency and what is left of Pendle being combined with five wards from Burnley and renamed “Burnley North and Nelson”.
This generated lots of concern, with more than 2,000 Pendle residents writing to the Boundary Commission to object to Pendle being broken up.
However, the new revised proposals, published following an extensive public consultation, mean all wards in Ribble Valley Borough Council remain in the constituency and Fishwick Ward has been returned to the Preston constituency.
In addition, the Ribble Valley constituency will take on the Hyndburn wards of Rishton plus Overton and Netherton (Great Harwood), whilst losing the South Ribble wards of Lostock hall, Tardy Gate and Farington.All the existing parts of Pendle, meanwhile, would remain in a Parliamentary constituency called Pendle. To bring that seat up to the correct number of voters the rural wards of Briercliffe and Cliviger with Worsthorne from Burnley would be added.
The proposals have come about because the Coalition government plans to reduce the number of MPs from 660 to 600. Constituencies are being redrawn to make them similar in terms of the number of voters.
Ribble Valley Conservative Association welcomed the change of heart from the Parliamentary Boundary Commission to keep the whole of the Ribble Valley Borough in one Parliamentary constituency.
Nigel Evans, Ribble Valley MP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “I am delighted that the Boundary Commission took my concerns and the concerns of local councillors and residents seriously,” said Mr Evans.
“Together, we successfully argued for all Ribble Valley wards to remain in the constituency and I am delighted that Longridge, Chipping and Ribchester are now included in the reshaped constituency.
“It never made sense to remove Fishwick from Preston and its return means that the proposed constituency would be served by three local authorities rather than an over bureaucratic four.
“I would welcome the residents of Rishton, Overton and Netherton into the constituency, who will no doubt be aware of the historic constituency links between Clitheroe and Hyndburn.”
Coun. Ken Hind, speaking on behalf of the association, said: “The original recommendations made by the commission following the decision to reduce the number of Parliamentary seats by 60 to 600 and increase the average size was to divide the Ribble Valley by including Longridge, Chipping and Ribchester as a vast new seat based on Lancaster, North Preston and Wyre.
“Following strong submissions from town and parish councils, private individuals and ourselves to keep the borough together the commission has seen the light.
“It is sensible to keep areas that have been together traditionally which are very rural with a farming and tourism economy together. We are very glad that the strength of the argument has been recognised.
“This is not however not the end of the matter as the commission is asking for representations on the new boundaries over the next eight weeks, so all town and parish councils, voluntary organisations, and the Ribble Valley Borough Council need to register their support for these revised proposals in so far as they keep the Ribble Valley Borough together.
“We will be considering the impact upon surrounding areas before making any final judgement on the proposals as a whole.”