Lancaster and Morecambe General Election merger described as “ludicrous”

Photo Neil Cross. David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale.
Photo Neil Cross. David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale.
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Morecambe would merge with Lancaster under new plans to change General Election seats.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, called the idea “ludicrous”.

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

He also said: “It is a slap in the face to Morecambe and Heysham that after the opening of the link road the proposal is to lump them in with Lancaster.”

The plans would also create a new North Lancashire seat combining rural areas including Silverdale, Carnforth, Halton-with-Aughton, the Kellets, Galgate, Caton, Brookhouse, Hornby, Arkholme, Lancaster University and Scotforth Rural, running from the borders with Cumbria and North Yorkshire to the outskirts of Preston.

The proposals to create a new Lancaster and Morecambe constituency are part of a nationwide re-drawing of electoral boundaries by the Boundary Commission.

They are intended to come into effect in 2020.

Proposed new constituency boundaries for Lancashire

Proposed new constituency boundaries for Lancashire

A public hearing into the plans will be held in Lancaster on October 24-25.

Mr Morris said the commission “clearly had no regard to the people of Morecambe and Lunesdale”.

“In the last review they agreed very strongly that Morecambe and Lancaster should not be matched as they were two distinct areas which deserved separate representation,” said the Conservative MP, who won his seat at the 2010 General Election and held onto it in 2015.

“This view was overwhelmingly held by the people of Morecambe who have often felt overshadowed by Lancaster in terms of funding.

“In Carnforth the proposal is even more ludicrous with the boundary being drawn from Silverdale through Carnforth and the Lune Valley to the Ribble Valley and North of Preston.

“No-one can argue these areas are remotely linked and it will mean that the rural North of Morecambe and Lunesdale would be forgotten.

“I will be opposing these proposals all the way and encourage everyone in Morecambe who does not want to be matched with Lancaster and those in Carnforth who see no link to North Preston to voice their opposition to the Commission.”

Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said the process was “flawed”.

“Whilst many in Lancaster and Morecambe will see this new proposal as making a lot more sense than the current constituencies, we must acknowledge that the process which brought us here was flawed even if the outcome reflects community ties,” said Ms Smith, who won her seat at the 2015 General Election.

“These proposals to redraw constituency boundaries are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable as they are based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters missing.

“Any constitutional changes, including the make-up of parliamentary constituencies, should be done fairly with everyone given a voice. This is not what the Tories have done. By pressing ahead with proposals despite two million people having been left out of the review, the Tories have revealed the truth about their plan to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600: it is designed for their own political advantage rather than do what is in the best interests of the country.

“Suggestions that this is being done to ‘cut the cost of politics’ are a red herring. The claimed saving of £12m is dwarfed by the £34m cost of the 260 extra Peers David Cameron appointed to the Lords. And at the same time the Tories have overseen a huge increase in the bill for politically appointed special advisers, totalling £45.8m since 2010.

“The Tories must stop trying to stack the deck in their favour and allow the Boundary Commission to take into account the millions who registered in the run-up to the May elections and the EU referendum. That is the way to ensure the public have the right level of representation. The Tories should pause, look again and proceed only with changes which are agreed consensually, when it can be guaranteed that no elector will lose out.”

The Boundary Commission proposals say the main reason for combining Morecambe and Lancaster is “the low electorates of the existing Morecambe and Lunesdale, and Lancaster and Fleetwood constituencies (the latter of which, at 58,789, is particularly low).

“We decided that we could not maintain the separation of the towns in different constituencies, as is the existing arrangement, because this would lead to a geographically huge constituency that would wrap around the City of Lancaster.

“Additionally, this configuration would mean that a Lancaster constituency would not meet the electoral range.

“Although the ward of University & Scotforth Rural, on the south-eastern periphery of Lancaster, is not included in our proposed 14 Boundary Commission for England constituency, it is a predominantly rural ward (most of which lies to the east of the M6 motorway) with the only significant

settlement being the university.

“We would have preferred a solution that retained the university site within a constituency with Lancaster but, having carefully examined the alternatives, concluded that any other solution would result in greater division of the City of Lancaster.

“The physical geography, geographically large ward sizes and small ward electorates in the northern part of the county have led us to propose a new constituency stretching from the borders with Cumbria and North Yorkshire, to the estuary of the River Lune, and to the outskirts of the city of Preston. In view of its large size and extent, we propose that the constituency be called North

Lancashire.”

The current Morecambe and Lunesdale seat includes Morecambe, Heysham, Carnforth, Silverdale, Bolton-le-Sands and the north bank of the City of Lancaster, including Halton-with-Aughton and Skerton.

The Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency was created for the 2010 General Election. Prior to 2010 Lancaster was put together with Wyre.

In England, all but 68 of the current 533 constituencies will see some change with 33 being abolished entirely.

The North West would lose seven constituencies and 14 of the current 75 remain unchanged.

A public consultation into the proposals will run until December 5.

To take part in the consultation people can go to the website HERE to share their views.

What do you think? Please let us know your views.