Rugby political groups speak out over proposed boundary changes

Political groups are having their say over proposals to alter Rugby constituency - with one group branding the plans 'an affront to democracy'.

Monday, 23rd October 2017, 1:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 7:38 am
(Left) the existing constituency and (right), the proposed changes.

The proposals, put forward by the Boundary Commission for England, are under consultation until December 11 and would see changes which could come into force for the next General Election.

The new constituency would be called Rugby and Southam and the boundary would be stretched south to include Dunchurch, Southam and part of Radford Semele.

Villages to the north and west of Rugby, such as Long Lawford, would no longer be part of the constituency.

A Rugby Labour spokesperson said: "Everyone agrees that a boundary review is needed, but it is crucial that is proceeds in a way that benefits our democracy and not just the Conservative Party.

“From the outset the Tories have only been interested in trying to stack the deck in their favour. It now it appears Theresa May is too weak to push through these unfair, undemocratic plans.

“She needs to drop them and ensure the review proceeds on the current number of MPs, with the most up-to-date register and with appropriate flexibility to take into account community ties and geography”.

Labour councillor for Newbold and Brownsover, Claire Edwards, described the proposals as 'flawed' and said the money being spent on a boundary review could be better spent elsewhere.

She said: "Rugby needs a constituency that doesn't stretch across so many different local government boundaries and makes little sense.

"I do believe the millions being spent on a boundary review could be spent on much more important things such as reviewing Universal Credit."

Lib Dem cllr Jerry Roodhouse said: "The proposals are a curate's egg as whatever happens the Rugby area gets split.

"We are urging people to comment. It is still unclear if the Prime Minister will still allow it because of the pressure from her own party.

"The present proposal also seems to favour the Conservative party against others but we will work with whatever is decided and give voters a Liberal Democrat choice."

Roy Sandison of Rugby Green Party took to the Boundary Commission's website to call the proposals an 'affront' to democracy.

He said: "Rugby Green Party believes what amounts to gerrymandering is taking place. It's a real affront to democracy we believe.

"Electoral boundaries need to take in account centres of population and how outlying areas relate to them.

"There is little argument that we can see in putting the Kineton and Bishops Itchington wards in with Rugby instead of Long Lawford and Wolston that have clear transport and local council connections to Rugby.

Mr Sandison said the party rejects the proposed inclusion of Kineton and Bishops Itchington into the constituency.

In response to being asked whether the proposals might benefit one political party, the Boundary Commission stated: "As independent and politically impartial bodies, the Boundary Commissions do not take into account patterns of voting or the results of elections when reviewing constituency boundaries.

"Nor do the political parties’ views on where boundaries should be have any more weight than those of members of the public"

The Conservative Party's response to public input stated: "We note that the Commission have received a large number of representations from the West Midlands.

"We note that a very large majority of the representations are in, often very strong, opposition to the Commission’s proposals."

After making its own recommendations, the Conservative Party's response stated: "We believe that our proposals are a significant improvement under all factors.

"We also agree with many of the very strong concerns expressed in the representations."

Conservative MP for Rugby Mark Pawsey previously told the Advertiser: "If we go into the 2022 General Election using the present boundaries we will be doing so using demographic data that is 20 years old.

“There is already significant disparity in constituency sizes which mean that MPs in different areas of the country need a different number of votes to be elected.

"It is only right that this system is made fairer and that votes cast in different areas of the country carry equal weight.

“These proposals would address these anomalies whilst also cutting the cost of politics by reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600.

I am often asked why Dunchurch is not part of the present Rugby constituency so I am supportive of the new boundaries moving south.

“I am, however, disappointed to see that the revised proposals would still involve villages to the north of the town, such as Long Lawford, no longer being part of a ‘Rugby’ constituency.

“A further period of consultation is now underway and I would urge everyone who is interested in these proposals to have their say before the deadline on December 11."

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