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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Concerns over shake-up proposals for Cumbria's constituency boundaries

Concerns about planned changes to Cumbria’s Parliamentary constituency boundaries have united residents.

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Rory Stewart: ‘Amazing group of people’

People from across the county have contributed to a consultation by the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) on the changes that would see Dalston joined with Workington and Windermere with Copeland.

Cumbria would be reduced from six to five MPs under the proposals and the boundaries of most constituencies would change significantly in 2013.

The seats of Barrow, Carlisle, Copeland, Workington, Penrith and the Border and Westmorland and Lonsdale would be replaced with five constituencies called Carlisle, Barrow, Copeland and Windermere, Kendal and Penrith and Workington and Keswick.

Changes to create the Kendal and Penrith seat could potentially see two of the county’s current MPs – Rory Stewart and Tim Farron – going head-to-head at the next general election. Every new constituency must have 76,641 voters, plus or minus five per cent.

Michael Cox, of Dalesman Drive, Carlisle, is one of many concerned voters to contribute his views.

In a written statement to the Commission, he called for a reassessment of the Carlisle constituency, specifically the border between the Harraby and Dalston wards.

He said: “The boundary needs to be extended to reach up to junction 42 of the M6 as the current proposals offer no historic,cultural, economic or geographic sense.”

While Michael Butler, of Haile Park, Egremont, said: “The proposal for the new constiuency, for what was West Cumbria, Copeland, is to include Windermere, Grasmere, Hawkshead and Coniston and takes no consideration of the geographical divide broken up as it is by a significant mountain range.

“Irrespective of political affiliation I do not believe that an MP could adequately represent the disparate needs of a tourist area like East Cumbria and the industrial/agricultural needs of west Cumbria.”

Robert Price, of Keld Close, Stainton, called it fundamentally perverse to separate the voters of Dacre parish from those of the rest of Eden and the town of Penrit.

He added: “It is hard to believe that we will have much engagement with an MP representing Workington, or, indeed, vice versa. We are a rural suburb of Penrith, and this should be reflected in the boundary changes.”

More than 40,000 people have responded to consultation and Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, has called for more Cumbrians to give their views.

People have until April 3 to give their views. Visit http://consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk/

Mr Stewart said: “Cumbria’s voice has been heard loud and clear: we do not support these proposals.”

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