One MP for Morecambe and Lancaster – your say

Robert Welsh from Hest Bank.
Robert Welsh from Hest Bank.

Should Morecambe, Heysham and Lancaster have one MP between them?

We asked people on the streets of Morecambe and Lancaster as a public hearing gets under way into plans to change our two local General Election seats.

Yolanda Ottonello.

Yolanda Ottonello.

We also asked people in Carnforth about plans to put Carnforth into a separate North Lancashire seat alongside Caton, Brookhouse, the Kellets, Halton-with-Aughton, Hornby, Galgate, Arkholme, Lancaster University and Scotforth Rural, running from the borders with Cumbria and North Yorkshire to the outskirts of Preston.

These new General Election constituencies would replace the existing Morecambe and Lunesdale, and Lancaster and Fleetwood seats, if the Boundary Commission for England proposals get the go-ahead.

Yolanda Ottonello, 85, from Morecambe, said: “I think we should stay as we are, I’m happy with it as it is.

“I’ve always voted Conservative and I voted for David Morris. I think he should stay as our MP. If we have our own MP it gives us a bit of strength.

Rod Bell, 63, from Morecambe said: “I think they should leave things alone.

“Lancaster and Morecambe together is rubbish, all the money that Morecambe has will go to Lancaster. We should let Morecambe go back to what it was, with fairgrounds, piers and dance halls.”

Robert Welsh, 75, from Hest Bank, said: “I don’t think it will affect much to be honest. I vote Conservative and I think it will probably stay the same so I am not bothered by the change.”

Sue Stokes, 67, from Carnforth, said: “I don’t see any reason for changing things at all really. It will become a huge area and I think we would become more overlooked as a town. Preston is a long way away and they will only be interested in Preston.”

Pete Norris, 67, from Lancaster, said: “Personally I would agree with the Lancaster and Morecambe seat as the two places are so close. We’re sort of one.

“Local people travel between the two places, and the new road links us together even more. It’s a small world. We need one voice.”

Charlie Burns, 21, from Lancaster, said: “When I lived in Hornby I thought it was weird that it was in Morecambe and Lunesdale and not in Lancaster.It makes sense to have a rural constituency, but it doesn’t make sense to have the university not a part of Lancaster. I’m not sure it makes sense to have one seat for both Lancaster and Morecambe, then again Lancaster and Fleetwood doesn’t make sense either. To be honest, it doesn’t make sense either way.”

The hearing, part of a nationwide public consultation running until December 5, got under way on Monday at the Storey Centre in Lancaster.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, and a Conservative, spoke out against the plans.

Mr Morris outlined a counter-proposal where Morecambe and Lunesdale would remain separate from Lancaster but with the city’s Bulk ward joining Morecambe and Lunesdale.

“My constituents don’t want to see Morecambe going with Lancaster,” he said afterwards.

“This is an age-old view, it’s been going on for years.

“We think Bulk would be better represented in Morecambe and Lunesdale because it complements Skerton, which is already in the constituency.”

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, from the Labour party, spoke in favour of the proposals, saying they “reflect long-held community ties and create constituencies which bring together communities with similar interests and needs”.

Ms Smith had originally criticised the Boundary Commission blueprint, describing it as “unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable” because it excludes two million people who were not on the December 2015 electoral register.

But at Monday’s hearing, she said: “That is a matter for Parliament to correct and not the Boundary Commission for England.”

Darren Clifford, a Labour councillor and chairman of Morecambe Town Council, said the town council thought the Morecambe and Lunesdale seat should be more like the old Morecambe and Lonsdale constituency from pre-1983, bringing in Bulk as well as Grange South and North, Arnside and Beetham.

“We don’t believe it makes sense to merge the city centre of Lancaster with the coastal town of Morecambe,” he said.

“We think Lancaster and Morecambe are two exceedingly distinct brilliant places.”

Cat Smith described this proposal as “bonkers”.

“Both the Conservatives and Morecambe Town Council proposals split Lancaster through the one way system,” she said.

Charlie Edwards, a Lancaster city councillor for Bare and a Conservative, said: “I believe merging Lancaster and Morecambe into one Parliamentary constituency would cause more problems than it solves and would be to the long term detriment of both communities.

“This proposal is a powerful symbol that people will see as Morecambe being inferior to Lancaster. “We are lucky to have two MPs who fight on two distinct issues and we have greater chance of success if two are speaking for this community.”

The open hearing continues on Monday until 8pm and then on Tuesday from 9am to 5pm.

We want to hear your views on this issue. Please let us know what you think.