Boundary changes are innately unfair – Labour campaign manager

THE BOUNDARY Commission for England has been criticised for excluding local communities from access to its plans to break up the Batley and Spen constituency.

The review of parliamentary constituencies proposes a new Batley and Morley seat, where two Batley wards join three Leeds wards; plus a new Spen seat that merges the four Spen Valley wards with two from Bradford South.

But the BCE has been criticised for only sending hard copies of their proposals and maps to the town halls in Morley and Cleckheaton and nowhere else.

Labour campaign manager Dan Howard, who worked on the boundary review for former Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood and for the late Jo Cox MP, said these proposals should be as widely available as possible.

“The consequences of this boundary review are enormous, not least for Batley and Spen which would cease to exist if the proposals are accepted,” he said.

“The review itself is innately unfair and undemocratic. It will re-draw constituencies based on 2015 figures – ignoring and excluding two million voters who have registered since.

“The plans should be as accessible as possible, not restricted. Placing them in Morley and Cleckheaton but not in Batley, Heckmondwike, Wyke or Birstall is unacceptable. Copies won’t even be available in Dewsbury.

“This is an early insight into what many fear this review will ultimately lead to – the disengagement and disenfranchisement of local voters.”

Mr Howard however praised Kirklees Council for pledging to address this issue by ensuring copies are available in all town halls and in other council buildings, including libraries.

He added: “The Government claims it wants to ‘cut the cost of politics’ by getting rid of 50 elected MPs. But any savings will have to be offset against the £34million they’ve spent appointing 260 new unelected members of the House of Lords.

“This process is not about saving money, it is about fixing the result of the next general election.

“Local people and communities will pay the price.”

A 12-week consultation period started on September 13 and runs until December 5, when people can comment on the proposals and make their own suggestions.

The BCE only sent their plans to the following venues:

Batley & Morley – Morley Town Hall;

Colne Valley – Holmfirth Library and Information Centre;

Dewsbury – Skelmanthorpe Library & Information Centre;

Huddersfield – Huddersfield Library;

Spen – Cleckheaton Library.

The information is available online and via the Kirklees Council website.

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