Batley and Spen could be scrapped as part of constituency boundaries review

As politicians get down to campaigning in the Batley and Spen by-election, the constituency could soon cease to exist.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 3:00 pm
Batley town centre

Under plans published today (Tuesday) the Batley and Spen constituency would be scrapped and replaced by a new Batley and Hipperholme seat.

The Government has ruled that all constituencies must have no less than 69,724 voters and no more than 77,062, hence the need for an independent review by the Boundary Commission for England (BCE).

Under the plans Heckmondwike would move from Batley and Spen to Dewsbury, and Batley would join with the Hipperholme and Lightcliffe ward, which is part of Calderdale Council’s area.

Cleckheaton town centre

The new Batley and Hipperholme seat would retain Batley East, Batley West, Birstall and Birkenshaw, Cleckheaton, and Livesedge and Gomersal.

The Dewsbury constituency gains Heckmondwike, Kirkheaton and other parts of the Dalton ward - but loses Denby Dale and Kirkburton to a new Ossett and Denby Dale constituency.

Dewsbury keeps Dewsbury East, Dewsbury South, Dewsbury West and Mirfield.

Coun Aafaq Butt (Lab, Heckmondwike) was angry at the proposals and tweeted: “So it seems like Heckmondwike will move from Batley & Spen to Dewsbury. It was Dewsbury first then Batley & Spen and proposed to move again.

“My ward is not a ping pong ball for your election fix-ups @BorisJohnson.”

Baroness Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) was also furious over the loss of the Spen identity.

“Spen has been obliterated,” she said. “Spen has always had a constituency name, either Spen Valley or Brighouse and Spenborough and then Batley and Spen. Somebody, somewhere with a pen says Spen does not exist.

“Batley and Hipperholme is a nonsense of a constituency. You can drive along the A58 and pass through Hipperholme and not know you’ve been.”

Coun Pinnock said the cross-border constituency would also be a nightmare for the MP who would have to deal with two local authorities and two hospital trusts - Mid-Yorkshire as well as Calderdale and Huddersfield.

She said the seemingly random boundary changes were only necessary because of the tight five per cent variation allowed in constituency voter numbers.

The BCE has published its initial proposals as part of an eight-week public consultation.

The 2023 review was formally launched in January this year. Under the changes the number of constituencies in England will increase from 533 to 543.

Yorkshire and the Humber has been allocated 54 constituencies, the same as the current number, but only two remain unchanged.

Tim Bowden, BCE secretary, said: “We consider all feedback received during the consultation process and it is your local knowledge that helps us to shape constituencies that best reflect your local area.”

To have your say, go to www.bcereviews.org.uk.

The commission will report to Parliament by July 2023 and the constituencies could be in place for the next General Election.