Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Boundary Commission Review - Mersey Banks

I don't whether to laugh or cry when looking at the Boundary Commission's suggestions for a Mersey Banks constituency.  I have to say this must be amongst the most absurd suggestions that the Commission has proposed - and they've reached this position through what I see as poor decision making, having painted themselves into unnecessary corners elsewhere, and our interesting geography and proximity to seemingly immutable boundaries.  However the commission seemingly can defy the vast expanse of the River Mersey. 

So why do I think this is absurd?  Well how many Parliamentary Constituencies bridge 3 local authority areas - we have Bromborough and Eastham from Wirral, Hale and Ditton from Halton with the remaining areas being in Cheshire West and Chester in this suggestion.  How many Parliamentary Constituencies are divided by a river - and one of the  size of the Mersey Estuary?  When the new Mersey Gateway bridge is built one will have to pay a toll to move from one side to another.  This suggestion strikes me as having been produced by someone looking at a map and not appreciating that the 'blue bits' are water.  The Hale and Ditton portions are physically distant and remote as a matter of geography from the rest of the suggested constituency and other than touching the river they are not even contiguous with the other parts.

This suggested constituency straddles the Merseyside and Cheshire boundary - an inconvenient boundary the Commission has chosen to ignore.  This proposal links communities that have few if any ties.  Do the people of Ditton consider themselves to be similar or linked with Eastham or Bromborough? I suggest that the Mersey Estuary and the few transport links there are over or under the Estuary demonstrate that these communities are not linked in any meaningful way.

However as the Commission has decided that it can't link Liverpool with Birkenhead (clearly tolls or the prospect of tolls are no impediment) even though they are in the same county, and with the Welsh and the North West region boundaries being 'fixed' some difficult decisions are needed.  However the absurdity of straddling 3 local authority areas of linking communities that have little or no contact is going too far in my view. Certainly you don't hear of Weaverham residents clamouring to go to Eastham or Ditton or vice versa.

And then to add to the stupidity the Boundary Commission decided that it wouldn't take account of the ward  changes in Cheshire West and Chester that were used at our last elections in May 2011.  There is no such thing as 'Weaver ward' any more, or indeed any of the Cheshire West wards as shown.  If you want a recipe for confusion for voters in this area this it.

It is interesting to note this proposal is 'oversized' with a suggested electorate of over 80,000 - and this is before one considers that CWaC is 'going for growth.'

Speaking as a Frodsham resident I would be looking to be linked with rural mid Cheshire or to Chester, or perhaps towards Ellesmere Port.  If that isn't possible, and with regret I would consider what we presently have with Weaver Vale at the moment links with Runcorn - although I don't see how Runcorn, Northwich and Frodsham are linked communities at the moment.  The previous MP Mike Hall described Weaver Vale as 'not the best piece of work done by the Boundary Commission.'  Well this is even worse.

I'm sorry Boundary Commission this is Grade U material.  You are failing all the communities in these proposals.  This is simply not fair to anyone and not good enough.