Plans to scatter Hyndburn between three new parliamentary seats have been condemned as ‘lunacy’ by the area’s MP.
Under new plans, unveiled by the Boundary Commission this week, the town of Accrington will be divided up between two new constituencies – ‘Rossendale and Oswaldtwistle’ and ‘Burnley and Accrington East’.
Great Harwood and Rishton would join the Ribble Valley, a change demanded by many campaigners in Great Harwood.
The Accrington Observer is campaigning against proposals to split the town of Accrington between two MPs.
The Commission has revised the parliamentary boundaries announced last year, which wiped Hyndburn off the parliamentary map and split voters between Burnley and Darwen.
But opponents say the new plans will see even more fragmentation of Accrington and its surrounding townships.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said the latest boundaries were ‘an absolute disgrace’ and would carve up Hyndburn.
He added: “It would have various MPs with only a small interest in the borough. It would mean that the constituency office would go and the borough council would have great difficulty in trying to campaign for Hyndburn.”
The Commission has launched a fresh eight-week consultation into plans to cut the number of House of Commons seats by 50 – although parliamentary support has been cast into doubt.
Labour MP Mr Jones added: “The Liberal Democrats have said they’re going to oppose the boundaries, which leaves the vote now on a knife edge.”
The new parliamentary maps see Oswaldtwistle, Church, Clayton-le-Moors, Altham and part of Accrington form one-third of a ‘Rossendale and Oswald-twistle’ seat, with the rest of Accrington, Baxenden and Huncoat tacked on to a ‘Burnley and Accrington East’ constituency.
However, Lynn Wilson, of Great Harwood Regeneration Board, is ‘chuffed to bits’ with the new proposals.
She added: “Great Harwood doesn’t fit comfortably into anything with Hyndburn. Our relationship has always been closer with the Ribble Valley and that’s where we want to be.”
Great Harwood Independent councillor Ian Robinson said it would be ‘wonderful’ to see the town moved out of Hyndburn. He added: “We are not Hyndburn people, we are Great Harwood people.
“That’s one of the reasons why Great Harwood has still got its shops full and its town centre is thriving.”
But Peter Holden, secretary of Great Harwood Community Action Group, said he personally favoured the Hyndburn link. He added: “The link with Accrington upsets a lot of people. But we’re only talking about parliamentary boundaries, not talking about being run from a local government point of view.”
Hyndburn Conservative leader Peter Britcliffe said he understood the changes were effectively ‘dead in the water’ politically.
But he added: “There is certainly some need for equalisation of parliamentary constituencies.
“I’m worried about the suggestions they’re making because I think it would be very difficult for Hyndburn Council to survive with the townships in three different constituencies.”