Plans to split up constituency boundaries in Grimsby described as 'totally unacceptable'
REVISED proposals for reshaping constituency boundaries in North East Lincolnshire have been described as "inexplicable" and a "dog's breakfast" by the area's MPs.
As reported in yesterday's Grimsby Telegraph, the Boundary Commission for England has dropped plans to split the town of Cleethorpes across two constituencies – and is proposing to break up Grimsby instead.
Last year, the commission unveiled proposals to include the Cleethorpes wards of Croft Baker and Sidney Sussex in an expanded Grimsby constituency, with Haverstoe being part of a new Brigg and Humberston seat.
But following a consultation process, in which the Conservative Party objected to the plan to divide Cleethorpes, the Boundary Commission is now proposing to group the Grimsby wards of Park, Scartho and South with the Cleethorpes wards of Croft Baker, Sidney Sussex and Haverstoe in a Grimsby South and Cleethorpes constituency.
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The other Grimsby wards would be joined by Immingham, Wolds and four wards from North Lincolnshire in a Grimsby North and Barton seat.
The proposals are part of a plan to reduce the number of MPs from 533 to 502 MPs nationally, and from ten to nine in Humberside. The aim is also to "equalise" the populations of the constituencies, with no seat having an electorate smaller than 72,810 or larger than 80,473.
The Boundary Commission report states that dividing Grimsby is the only way to avoid splitting up the Isle of Axholme, in North Lincolnshire – a plan which was initially proposed, but has now been dropped following strong objections.
It adds that simply moving either Croft Baker or Sidney Sussex back to Cleethorpes from Grimsby would not work, as this would reduce the Grimsby constituency below the electoral quota.
Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers said: "I'm delighted that the town of Cleethorpes is to stay within one constituency, though I feel it's a bit bizarre to break up Grimsby in order to do it.
Mr Vickers said the need to split up Grimsby was the result of the "ludicrous regional boundaries" which means that areas such as Tetney, Holton-le-Clay or Keelby cannot be grouped with Grimsby or Cleethorpes.
"The Grimsby North seat will include villages such as Hatcliffe and East Ravendale which are to the south of Grimsby, and Barnoldby-le-Beck and Waltham will be in different constituencies. It is a bit of a dog's breakfast."
But he added: "This is all a bit academic because the Lib Dems have said they are going to vote against it anyway."
Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell said the proposals were "inexplicable" and "totally unacceptable".
He said: "They are wanting to split a long-standing and established seat in two and I don't see any rationale behind it. Cleethorpes as a constituency will still be split under these proposals."
He added that the changes would create two Tory marginal seats, as opposed to one safe Labour seat and one safe Conservative seat under the previous proposals.
"The revision is just a partisan effort to reduce the number of Labour MPs.
"I am not against equalising the constituencies but I do not think the number of MPs should be reduced.
"I would like to see sensible plans rather than this jigsaw puzzle."
You can give your views on the revised proposals from now until December 10. Visit http://consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. gsi. gov.uk