Delay to constituency boundary review welcomed by Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell
THE Great Grimsby constituency has been reprieved after the House Of Commons voted to delay a planned boundary review.
MPs voted by 334 to 292 to accept changes made by the House Of Lords, meaning the planned constituency shake-up will be postponed until 2018 at the earliest.
In 2011, the Boundary Commission unveiled proposals to redraw constituency boundaries across the UK, making them all of equal size and reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600.
Under the initial plan, Cleethorpes would have been split across two constituencies, with the Croft Baker and Sidney Sussex wards being lumped with Grimsby, and Haverstoe being part of a new Brigg and Humberston seat.
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However, these plans were altered in the face of strong objections from Cleethorpes residents.
But the revised proposals proved even more controversial, as they involved splitting the historic constituency of Great Grimsby in two.
Under those plans, four Grimsby wards – Park, Scartho, Heneage and South – were to be included in a new Grimsby South and Cleethorpes seat, while the remainder of the town was to be part of a Grimsby North and Barton seat, including Immingham, the Wolds, and four wards from North Lincolnshire.
The proposals prompted a campaign spearheaded by local man Steve Elliott, and backed by Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell calling for the ancient seat to be preserved.
Mr Elliott said the change would “split the town and divide our community” and result in the area being represented by “a bit of two MPs”.
Mr Mitchell said the proposals were “inexplicable” and “totally unacceptable”, and “a partisan effort to reduce the number of Labour MPs”.
Even Cleethorpes MP Mr Vickers, who was pleased that the resort was not to be split in two, described the revisions as “bizarre” and “a bit of a dog’s breakfast”.
Following yesterday’s vote, Mr Mitchell tweeted: “Bill to abolish Grimsby defeated! Yipee!”
Earlier he posted on Twitter: “Today’s vote will postpone the new boundaries to 2018 effectively killing this crazy review and saving fifty seats AND GRIMSBY.”
Although the boundary review had originally been a joint Coalition commitment, Liberal Democrat MPs decided to vote against their Conservative colleagues.
The two parties had been in dispute since proposed reforms to the House Of Lords were dropped as a result of backbench Conservative pressure last year.
If the review had proceeded as planned, then political analysts believed it would have helped the Conservatives win up to 20 extra seats in the 2015 general election.
Giving his reaction to the vote yesterday, Mr Elliott said: “I’m highly delighted. This is brilliant news.
“Like many people I always thought splitting Grimsby would be a disaster.”