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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘Appalling’ Parliamentary boundary changes will ‘rip up Leeds’, Labour Councillor says

Proposed changes to Parliamentary boundaries will “rip up Leeds”, one of the city’s Labour councillors has said.

Kevin Ritchie branded the carve-up as “appalling”, while the council itself said it would make parts of its own job at General Elections “tricky”.

The Boundary Commission is in the process of trying to re-jig the UK’s Parliamentary constituencies, to ensure MPs represent relatively even numbers of people.

At the moment, the city of Leeds is divided in a relatively straightforward way. It has eight constituencies and only Morley shares an MP with a place outside of the city, as its twinned with Outwood in Wakefield.

But under the draft proposals, Rothwell would become part of the Wakefield constituency, Kippax and Methley would be grouped together with Selby and Wetherby and Harewood would be mingled with the Hambleton and southern Harrogate areas.

But there would be knock-on effects and changes to other Leeds constituencies too, in a bid to even out voter numbers.

A consultation on the early plans has now ended and the Boundary Commission is expected to return soon with a final draft.

Cllr Kevin Ritchie

Speaking at a scrutiny meeting on Monday, Councillor Ritchie said: “I know there’s not a lot we can do about it, but I just have to comment on the proposals for the electoral bondary changes.

“I just think it’s ripping up Leeds really. I did submit my response (to the consultation).

“But I just I’d like to put my view on record, I think it’s appalling what they’re planning to do.”

Everyone living in the likes of Rothwell, Kippax, Methley, Wetherby and Harewood would all still be classed as Leeds residents, as the changes do not affect council boundaries.

Council wards, which are used to determine local election results and Leeds City Council’s political makeup are also unaffected.

The changes would only affect how General Elections and how people are represented in Parliament.

Responding to Councillor Ritchie, the council’s head of electoral services, Susanna Benton, said: “I agree, for us logistically, splitting some of the wards across with other authorities is quite tricky.

“I think we go from having one shared constituency to three.

“It is what it is. They’ve had the consultation stage and so the next thing they put out will be what we’re probably going to be faced with.”

The final changes, whatever they are, are due to come in in 2025 after the next General Election.

The proposed changes in full

  • Kippax and Methley incorporated into the Selby constituency
  • Harewood and Wetherby merged with parts of Harrogate and Hambleton to form ‘Wetherby and Easingwold’ constituency
  • Rothwell to become part of the Wakefield constituency
  • The current Leeds North East constituency to remain largely unaffected, except for some minor boundary changes.
  • Pudsey constituency to lose Guiseley, Rawdon and Horsforth. Under the reforms it would cover Calverley, Farsley, Bramley, Stanningley, Farnley and Wortley.
  • Leeds North West constituency to take on Horsforth, Guiseley and Rawdon and also cover Adel, Wharfedale, Otley and Yeadon.
  • Middleton Park and Little London and Woodhouse to be removed from the Leeds ‘Central’ constituency, which itself would incorporate part of Gipton and Harehills.
  • ‘Leeds East’ constituency would include the rest of Gipton and Harehills, plus Garforth and Swillington, as well as retaining the rest of its current voters.
  • Morley constituency would divorce from Outwood and incorporate Middleton Park.
    New ‘Headingley’ constituency would be created and group together Armley, Kirkstall, Weetwood, Hyde Park and Headingley itself
  • It’s currently unclear which constituency voters in the Little London and Woodhouse areas will be allocated to.
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