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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Major boundary changes on the way for West Cumbria with parliamentary shake-up

West Cumbria could lose an MP while Cockermouth, Aspatria and Keswick may be joined with Penrith in a proposed radical shake up of parliamentary boundaries.

The Workington and Copeland constituencies could be scrapped in favour of a single constituency for West Cumbria, taking in Workington, Maryport and as far south as Gosforth.

The present Penrith and the Border constituency would become Penrith and Solway, stretching from the Marsh ward north of Silloth to Alston Moor in the east and Crosby Ravensworth and Shap in the south.

It would include Cockermouth, Aspatria and Keswick.

Villages close to Maryport, including Dearham, Crosby and Allonby, would move into the new constituency.

The proposals were put forward this week by the Boundary Commission for England.

They are part of a national review which aims to cut the number of constituencies in England from 533 to 502 and balance the numbers of voters in each MP’s area.

The move would sever parliamentary links between Maryport and neighbouring villages.

While Maryport’s Ellenborough, Ewanrigg and Netherhall wards would be in the West Cumbria constituency, the neighbouring Ellen ward, which includes villages such as Dearham, Crosby and Crosscanonby, would move to Penrith and Solway.

The Allerdale area wards joining with Penrith would be Aspatria, Holme, Silloth, Solway, Wharrels, Waver, Marsh, Wampool, Warnell, Wigton, Boltons, Christchurch and All Saints in Cockermouth, Broughton St Bridget’s, Crummock, Derwent Valley and Keswick.

The sitting Penrith and the Border MP is Rory Stewart, a Conservative.

Voters in Keswick, Crummock, Dalton and Derwent Valley wards have already had one change to get used to in recent years, having moved from the Workington constituency to the Copeland constituency in 2010.

The proposed West Cumbria constituency would have 79,471 electors while Penrith and Solway would have 77,313.

Previous proposals, which included a plan to move Harrington out of the Workington constituency and place it with Copeland, have been scrapped.

Those initial proposals would also have seen Keswick join Workington, along with Dalston near Carlisle, Ullswater and two areas near Penrith.

Those suggestions were scrapped after an initial round of public consultation and the new proposals drawn up.

Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham said: “It’s an improvement on what we had but ideally I’d prefer to block the bill entirely and keep the constituency boundaries as they are.

“They’re far more representative because people associate with Workington constituency.”

Labour’s Sir Tony would not speculate about whether he would stand down in favour of Copeland’s Jamie Reed if the proposals were approved.

Alan Smith, Cockermouth town and borough Labour councillor, said that moving Cockermouth and surrounding into the Penrith constituency would be an “absolute travesty”.

He added: “To have to travel 30-odd miles to meet your MP when there’s an MP eight miles away is crazy.

“We have no affiliation with Penrith. It bears no resemblance to West Cumbria.”

Peter Kendall, Mayor of Maryport, said it was “total nonsense” to take villages like Dearham and Crosby away from Maryport, which many see as their key town.

Coun Eddie Martin, leader of Cumbria County Council, said the number of MPs should be cut.

He added: “We are chronically over governed in Cumbria. We have 371 district and county councillors and six MPs.

“There are 650 MPs to govern the whole of the UK.

“One of the problems in Cumbria in particular is it’s such a diverse county.

“The people of parts of West Cumbria don’t relate to the people of east Cumbria.

“The proposals as they stand are rational.

“Whether they’re the most optimum or not I hesitate to say.”

He added that the plans were not politically motivated and had been drawn up by an independent body.

Andrew Lysser, Mayor of Keswick, said the town had more in common with Penrith than with Copeland or West Cumbria.

But he said that he would like to see a single MP, and local authority, for the whole of the Lake District National Park.

Mr Reed, Labour MP for Copeland, said: “It would obviously be better for West Cumbria to maintain as much parliamentary representation as possible including the two present parliamentary seats but at least this recommendation ensures we will be represented effectively in parliament should it be accepted by the House of Commons.”

An eight-week public consultation on the new draft boundaries runs until December 10.

The Boundary Commission for England will make its final recommendations by October 1, 2013.

For full details and to respond to the consultation visit consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk

Questions have been raised about whether changes will be made to parliamentary boundaries at all.

The Liberal Democrats have said nationally that they will not support the proposals in parliament.

Have your say

Talk about causing under representation...

Posted by Andrew on 26 October 2012 at 08:16

These boundary changes are excellent news for Cumbria, most peoples vote from cockermouth and Keswick was nullified when it was amalgamated with the workington and whitehaven electoral votes. everyone is a winner now with these new changes with the exception of one of the MPs.

Posted by barry on 24 October 2012 at 12:26

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