Councillors vow to fight 'unacceptable' boundary changes

More councillors in North Kirklees have waded into the debate over proposed changes to constituency boundaries in North Kirklees, describing the plans as "unacceptable".

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 2:00 pm
Batley and Spen would become Batley and Hipperholme under the proposed changes

The proposals by the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) – known as the 2023 Review – were announced yesterday (Tuesday) and have caused outrage, with residents and local politicians vowing to fight the suggestions.

Some of Kirklees’ existing 23 wards could be swapped with other constituencies or placed within an entirely new one while another – Dalton – might be split in two.

But it is the erasure of Batley and Spen, which could be renamed Batley and Hipperholme, that has caused the most consternation.

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

And as the area gets set for a by-election on July 1 a sense of identity and fierce loyalty has emerged.

Coun John Lawson, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Kirklees Council and himself a councillor in Cleckheaton, spoke for many.

He said: “Where has Spen gone? This proposal expunges Spen from the political map completely!

“After a century or so of it being named in the constituency it looks like we’re expected to disappear quietly.

“I can tell you now that’s not going to happen. Spen is where we live and it’s part of our identity.

“To have our name scrubbed out like this is not acceptable.”

Other changes see Crosland Moor and Netherton ward moving from Colne Valley to Huddersfield, and Dalton ward being split between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

The new Batley and Hipperholme constituency would take Hipperholme and Lightcliffe ward from Calder Valley.

Batley and Spen would lose Heckmondwike ward to Dewsbury.

Kirkburton and Denby Dale wards would move from Dewsbury to the brand new constituency of Ossett and Denby Dale.

Coun Lawson added: “The new proposals leave us with a corridor constituency with little connecting the communities.

“If I were resident in Hipperholme I should want to know where I stood, having the majority of my constituency in another local authority.

“What we’re being consulted on is some kind of parliamentary stew cooked with numbers and spare parts rather than trying to keep communities together in a way that makes sense to the constituents.”

Responding to the review, Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood said: “Naturally, I am disappointed that the initial proposals could mean losing Kirkburton and Denby Dale from my constituency.

“However, there is still a long way to go before the boundaries are finalised. I will continue to work hard on behalf of the people living in Dewsbury, Mirfield, Kirkburton and Denby Dale.”