Councillors’ anger over proposals to reshape constituencies

Councillors Howard Blagbrough and Scott Benton at greenbelt land off Thornhills Lane, Clifton.
Councillors Howard Blagbrough and Scott Benton at greenbelt land off Thornhills Lane, Clifton.

A major reshuffle in political constituencies has too many flaws and many people will resent being paired with Halifax according to Brighouse and Rastrick councillors.

The Calder Valley and Halifax constituencies will undergo a major reshuffle in proposals being put forward by the Boundary Commission for England. Brighouse, Rastrick, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe and Elland will now come under the Halifax constituency along with Royds from the City of Bradford.

However, Brighouse Councillor Scott Benton said the proposals change both constituencies beyond all recognition.

“The new proposals for Halifax and Calder Valley have a number of significant flaws: they do not preserve historic ties; do not reflect community and transport links; and they create major change the extent of which is unjustified when alternatives are available.”

Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) pointed out that during the local government review in 1974, people within Brighouse fought against being combined with Halifax.

“Although this fight was lost, many local people still refer to this today and the resentment at being paired with Halifax continues to be felt.

“These feelings are especially strong as many local people feel that Brighouse receives a poor deal from the Council which favours spending resources in Halifax.

“Against this backdrop, the proposal to pair Brighouse with Halifax nationally in a new constituency has evoked strong feelings among local people many of whom resent this change.”

Coun Christine Beal added the draft proposals for Calderdale, and specifically the Brighouse area, are unacceptable as they currently stand.

“We don’t believe that the proposals are supported by the majority of people in the Brighouse area and we think that they will alienate voters in this area who have absolutely no interest in being part of the Halifax constituency.

“It’s widely felt that many people are generally disengaged and disillusioned with politics as it is, without giving them further reason to be.”

Coun Colin Peel, (Brighouse, Conservative) said it is possible to create two constituencies within the borough which do not break up existing community links and which do not diminish the identities of proudly independent towns such as Brighouse.

“There is a counterproposal for the creation of a ‘Lower Calder’ constituency which significantly improves upon the current proposals for this area and would ensure that towns such as Brighouse and Elland retain their independence and are included in a constituency with similar sized communities with which they have much in common.

“The process of reshaping boundaries has not finished yet. There is time to register your views on the proposals and ensure that your voice is heard.

“The counter proposal keeps over 70 per cent of people in the same constituency they’re in now, as opposed to just 53 per cent in the current proposals.”

“This fact alone should give the Boundary Commission cause to seriously reconsider. I would strongly urge anyone who considers that this a retrograde step for either Brighouse, Rastrick, Hipperholme or Lightcliffe to input this view by letter or email into the consultation.”

Residents have until December 5 to send their views to Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ or email information@boundarycommissionengland.gov.uk