Boundary changes could favour Conservatives in Northampton, candidate claims

Proposed changes to Northampton's constituency boundaries will skew the contest for the south of the town towards the Tories, a Labour candidate has claimed.

Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 5:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 5:58 pm
Villages in the strongly Conservative 'Northamptonshire South' constituency could be absorbed into Northampton South at future general elections

Final recommendations for new parliamentary boundaries that could see the number of MPs cut from 650 to 600 have been published.

They would bring in to Northampton South the likes of Wootton, Collingtree Great Houghton, Milton Malsor, Grange park, Gayton, Rothersthorpe.

All of the above have previously been in the Northamptonshire South constituency, where almost 63 per cent of voters turned out for the Conservatives in the last General Election. The seat has been won by the Tories ever since its recreation in 2010.

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Gareth Eales, the Labour candidate for Northampton South, said his party had been hard done by in the calculations.

He said: "I think the proposed changes would give somewhat of an advantage to the Tories in Northampton South, based on traditional voting patterns.

"Whilst the principle of reducing the number of MP's is fine, these final boundary recommendations are just another undemocratic power grab by this Tory Government.

"Personally, I am undeterred, should these boundary changes actually come to pass, I will still do my absolute damnedest to deliver a Labour MP for Northampton South and whoever my opponent would be is on notice".

The Boundary Commission proposals, which still need to secure the backing of MPs and peers, were laid in Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Eales' suspicions have been dismissed by Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, who stressed that Government ministers had no influence over the final proposals above that which all parties had in the consultation.

Mr Ellis said: "The Electoral Boundaries Commission are a deeply independent body.

"They haven't arrived at these changes randomly. They spent many months consulting on this, speaking to people with expertise.

"Some constituencies are much smaller than others, which promotes unfairness and the system is skewed. This equalises things.

"The Labour Party should be focused on addressing issues that matter to people.

"It's not the boundary changes that favour the Conservatives, it's the electorate."