MPs divided over boundary changes

LABOUR MPs have given a mixed reaction to proposed boundary changes which could result in a change in the way people are asked to vote.

The Boundary Commission for England, the body responsible for setting political constituencies, says because there are not enough voters in Hartlepool the numbers have to be increased.

That will mean bringing in voters from Billingham to the Hartlepool constituency, adding a new area to that for which the town’s MP will be responsible.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright says the town will be “the least affected” in the North-East by new political boundary changes.

But Easington MP Grahame Morris slammed the move as a bid by the Tories to secure more seats.

Reacting to the proposed change, Mr Wright said: “It was possible that Hartlepool could have split in two, with the north of the town going into the Easington constituency and the south into Stockton and Billingham, so incorporating a part of Billingham was by far the better option.

“Hartlepudlians are very proud of their town and see it as a single entity. With this proposal 100 per cent of Hartlepool will be in the new seat, meaning that Hartlepool is the least affected area in the entire North-East.

“In other places, communities have either been split up or put together in ways that don’t make sense.

“I was born here, I grew up here and wouldn’t want to be the MP for anywhere else.”

Easington MP Mr Morris said: “Labour is not disadvantaged by the proposal to enlarge Easington. However closer analysis overall of the pattern of new seats is plain and simple gerrymandering: Piling up Labour voters in fewer seats, making adjoining seats more marginal.

“Sensible arguments about marinating links between communities and taking account of geography and local authority boundaries have been subverted to a crude mathematical assessment.

“On initial projections, Labour will lose 20 of the 30 seats to go in England and more in Wales and Scotland.

“Obviously the Tories are very happy as they are the biggest beneficiaries by far of the new boundaries.

“Labour is likely to lose two to three seats overall in our region under the proposed new boundaries.”

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham were not available for comment.