Angry MPs vow to fight boundary change proposals

MPs Yvette Cooper and Jon Trickett at Pontefract Hospital.
MPs Yvette Cooper and Jon Trickett at Pontefract Hospital.
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OUTRAGED MPs have vowed to fight government proposals to redraw constituencies which they say would “carve up” the Five Towns.

Yvette Cooper, MP for Castleford, Normanton and Pontefract, said plans to redraw boundaries across the district were driven by the government’s political interests and ignored natural communities and ties.

Under the new plans – announced this week by the Boundary Commission – Castleford, a traditional Labour stronghold, could be shifted into a new constituency with Selby, which currently has a Tory MP.

Pontefract, Knottingley and Featherstone would form part of a new Wakefield East and Pontefract constituency.

Ms Cooper said: “For our area, Castleford is being taken out of the Five Towns and linked with Selby in North Yorkshire, while Pontefract, Normanton and Knottingley will be joined by a part of Wakefield.

“These changes will be expensive to make and highly disruptive and breaking local ties will cause a lot of anger and concern.

“The government claims these changes are to save money, but the truth is they are spending twice as much on 40 new politicians to be elected as police commissioners with twice the salary.

“Carving up the Five Towns and North Yorkshire like this ignores the ties between towns and will make it harder for our area to have effective representation.”

The Boundary Commission is looking at constituencies as part of its 2013 review, which aims to create fewer, more equally-proportioned constituencies across the UK, reducing the overall number from 650 to 600.

Just five of the 54 seats across the Yorkshire and the Humber region would remain untouched under the proposals, which will reduce the total number of seats in the area to 50.

Ms Cooper added: “I have opposed this in parliament from the start, and I am calling on the government and the Boundary Commission to stop these plans and think again before it is too late.

“There are going to be public hearings for communities to make their views known. I hope local people will speak out.”

Hemsworth MP Jon Tricket – whose constituency currently includes Featherstone – said he objected strongly to the proposals.

He said: “Hemsworth has come out of this process relatively unscathed, though it grieves me deeply that the Boundary Commission proposes to take Featherstone out of our area.

“But if the government chooses to ignore local feelings I will fight these proposals in parliament as will the Labour Party.

“These proposals represent little more than a crude Tory stitch-up designed to damage Labour both in Yorkshire and nationally.”

The Boundary Commission consultation began on Tuesday and runs until December 5. Visit www.independent.gov.uk/boundarychanges for more information or email yorkshumber@ bcommengland.x.gsi.gov.uk to give your views.