Monday, December 05, 2016

Cumbria parliamentary boundaries review

The Boundary Commission for England has been consulting on new parliamentary boundaries for the North West. The initial consultation closes today.

You can read their current proposals for the North West at

These were the comments I submitted to the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) on the parliamentary boundaries for Cumbria.

"I am a Copeland resident, officer of Copeland Conservative Association and Cumbria Area Conservatives, former Copeland councillor and Conservative parliamentary and mayoral candidate for Copeland. I am writing in as an individual and these comments are about the proposals for Cumbria as a whole.

* I support the Boundary Commission proposals for parliamentary constituencies in Cumbria

* The geography of Cumbria, particularly the number of lakes and mountains, makes it difficult to assemble five constituences with a common interest and there are a limited number of ways you can do it.

* The first proposals in the last parliament were a classic example of the problems which this challenging geography can cause, including as they did a Copeland and Windermere seat of which the two main components had the highest mountain and deepest lake in England between them and the only direct route running over Hardknott pass, the alternative being a two-hour journey detouring around the lakes and mountains.

It makes far more sense, as in the revised proposals in the last parliament and the BCE's present ones, to put the main West Cumbrian centres of Whitehaven and Workington together. Despite a significant degree of mostly friendly rivalry, there is a significant common interest.

* A Carlisle constituency coterminous with Carlisle City Council has very great advantages, this is clearly an area of common interest and a very sensible proposal.

* There is historic precedent for a Penrith and Solway constituency, such as the late Willie Whitelaw used to represent.

* The main issue of potential debate is therefore the borders of the Workington and Whitehaven constituency and the enlarged Barrow and Furness constituency

* Ulverston and the area immediately around it is a unit which should be in the same constituency looks to Barrow more than any other part of the SLDC area does. It is included in the present Barrow and Furness constituency and it makes sense that it should remain part of the new Barrow constituency.

* There is also a "Furness Peninsulas" community based along the West Coast Road (A595 & A590 between Barrow, Millom and Sellafield) with people from Barrow travelling to work at Sellafield and people from Millom travelling both south to Barrow to work at BAE and North to Sellafield to work there.

* The present proposals have a strong geographical border at Ravenglass and on the river Mite. Shifting the border south to put it between Bootle and the Millom Without borough ward would make much less sense. I have heard it suggested that Black Coombe would form such a barrier, but this feature is to the east of the coastal strip where most of the local population lives.

* There is a very strong case - which I would not oppose - for putting Seascale in with Barrow rather than Workington and Whitehaven. This would put more of the South West Coast community in the same constituency. You would then have the route from Sellafield to Barrow, including Millom, all in one constituency with an MP who would have a locus to speak for people who live along and travel along that route to work. The people who live along and use this route do in a real sense form a natural community and I can certainly see a strong advantage in keeping them together.

Putting Seascale in with Barrow rather than the Workington and Whitehaven seat would be the only change to the BCE proposals I could support. But the proposals are strong as they stand."

Chris Whiteside

No comments: