MPs could lose out in seats shake-up

Ben Wallace, Tory candidate for Wyre and Preston North
Ben Wallace, Tory candidate for Wyre and Preston North

PLANS to cut the number of parliamentary seats in Lancashire look likely to herald more changes in the political boundaries in Garstang, rural Wyre and Ribble Valley.

Voters are only just getting used to constituency boundary changes brought in at the last general election, which saw the creation of two new seats - North Preston/Wyre and Lancaster/Fleetwood.

Portraits of Eric Ollerenshaw, Wednesday February 24 2010. Photo By Andrew Parsons ''Free for editorial and/or personal use only. No sales, no commercial use.

Portraits of Eric Ollerenshaw, Wednesday February 24 2010. Photo By Andrew Parsons ''Free for editorial and/or personal use only. No sales, no commercial use.

Now, with government plans to cut the total number of MPs from 650 to 600 Lancashire looks likely to lose one and possibly two seats as part of the radical overhaul - which will mean up to two of the county’s seats being ‘squeezed out’.

The ‘shape’ of proposed new constituencies in Lancashire is expected to be announced later this summer, and will be followed by Boundary Commission hearings at which political parties, pressure groups and the public can make their views known.

Although the Commission’s initial report has yet to be published, there has been speculation that the biggest changes could be in the area currently covered by North Preston/Wyre, Lancaster/Fleetwood and the Ribble Valley.

Ribble Valley Conservatives have already voiced concerns that their constituency, currently represented by MP Nigel Evans, could see big changes, even being split up, with Coun Ken Hind of Longridge voicing opposition to any such moves.

The MP for Lancaster, Fleetwood and the northern Over Wyre villages, Mr Eric Ollerenshaw, said voters were already confused as to which constituency they lived in after the last parliamentary boundaries at the 2010 general election.

His seat, which links districts as far apart as Fleetwood and Roeburndale, could disappear with parts being added onto a new Lancaster/Morecambe seat or a new seat centred on Garstang.

Mr Ollerenshaw said: “There is lots of speculation. My understanding is that the Boundary Commission will issue its initial report in September so until then it is only speculation. It is a case of wait and see.”

A spokesman for North Preston/Wyre MP Mr Wallace said: “As soon as Ben finds out some indication of what may happen we will let The Courier know his comments, but at the moment he is waiting for the Boundary Commission’s decision.”

After public hearings around the country into new boundaries and a reduced number of constituencies nationally, the Boundary Commission’s will report to Parliament in 2013 with a view to finalising the new boundaries in the summer of 2013, ready for the next general election.

One of the aims of the shake-up will be to create consitituencies with similar numbers of voters.

Currently the number of voters in various consitituencies varies greatly, from for example, the Isle of Wight, with 110,924 to the Outer Hebrides, which has only 21,837 voters.