The Boundary Commission have published their revised proposals to redraw the parliamentary constituency boundaries but I believe they are still unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable.
Whilst it is encouraging to see the commissioners have agreed to unite the Saddleworth wards as I lobbied, I believe that the proposals from the Boundary Commission are devastating for Oldham and Saddleworth as it breaks up the constituency and direct links with local authority boundaries.
In my view it is essential that Oldham and Saddleworth has a coherent settlement in the boundary review; something that’s still missing in these proposals.
As I have previously stated, the proposals are also based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters missing. Planning to reduce the democratically elected number of MPs from 650 to 600 at the same time as appointing hundreds of extra Peers to the Lords shows that this review is designed for the Tories’ own political advantage rather what is in the best interests of the country.
The recommendations in 2011 left the borough with the ‘left overs’ splitting historic towns and communities, and this one is only a little better. The current number of registered voters easily allows for two whole constituencies within the borough which respect historic towns and community ties.
Much of the work we have done locally, from the Oldham Fairness Commission to the Oldham Education and Skills Commission, and developing a Dementia Friendly Oldham, is about building strong integrated communities. But these proposals are, once again, an insult to the people of Oldham and Saddleworth and could have a divisive effect on our community’s representation in Parliament.
I will continue to work constructively to try and ensure the final outcome reflects the identity of communities within Oldham and Saddleworth.