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Have your say on proposed bounday changes to the Calder Valley Parliamentary Constituency

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Time is running out to take part in the public consultation on changes to Parliamentary constituencies in England. And there is little agreement over what shape our constituency should take, and whether the proposed changes favour a particular political party.

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) is undertaking an "independent and impartial review" of all constituencies in England, to make the number of electors in each constituency roughly the same. The number of constituencies in England will also increase to 543.

This is the second consultation period, inviting comments on proposals for new constituency boundaries – some of which have substantial changes suggested.

In Calderdale, changes are proposed to the boundaries of the Calder Valley and Halifax constituencies as well as the creation of a new Batley and Hipperholme constituency. Residents are invited to visit www.bcereviews.org.uk  to view the proposals and have their say. The deadline to comment is 4 April 2022.

Robin Tuddenham, Chief Executive of Calderdale Council and Returning Officer, said, "This review of Parliamentary constituencies includes a number of proposed changes for residents in Calderdale, so it's a good idea to have a look at the Boundary Commission website to check how the changes may affect you.

"Many people may already have taken part in the first consultation, but this is another chance to have your say about the proposals."

Secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, Tim Bowden, said, "The 2023 Boundary Review will rebalance the number of electors represented by each MP. It's important that the constituencies we shape reflect your local community as best as possible. We received over 34,000 responses during our first consultation last year which are available online for the public to read and comment on. We're inviting more people to have their say in our current secondary consultation, which is open now until 4 April. 

"Help us to get our proposals right for your area by telling us your views via bcereviews.org.uk. We're looking forward to hearing your feedback, and we take every response into account during our review of constituency boundaries."

Comment by Halifax MP Holly Lynch on the proposed changes:

The BCE's proposals for Calderdale would cause a huge amount of disruption despite there only being a relatively small amount of surplus voters in one of the two constituencies. Five wards – each containing around ten thousand residents - would change constituency under the proposals. This would unnecessarily create confusion and disruption to residents of those wards, and sever historic, cultural and geographical ties that they have with the other areas of their existing constituencies. There are other options available which would satisfy the BCE's criteria but be far less disruptive.

The best option would appear to be to move Rastrick ward into a constituency with Huddersfield. This would allow all other wards in the borough of Calderdale to remain in the same constituency as they are now. It would involve just one ward changing constituency as opposed to five. Not only would current constituency boundaries and local authority boundaries be preserved as much as possible, historic and cultural ties between areas would also be better respected.

For example, Park ward and the Eastern part of Warley ward are home to many families of predominantly Kashmiri and Pakistani heritage with connections across the two wards - utilising the same Mosques, shops, GPs practices and other services. Yet they would end up in different constituencies under the Boundary Commission's current proposals. Pellon and other parts of the Warley ward are also very much part of what is considered to be 'Halifax', but the proposal is for the ward to move to Calder Valley. The town centre of Halifax is where residents of Warley tend to shop, work and access key services.

Similarly the Eastern side of Sowerby Bridge ward is officially within the town of Halifax and has historically been part of the Halifax constituency. Residents of the Pye Nest, Spring Edge and Willowfield areas of the ward, in particular, have a strong affinity to the town of Halifax. Yet they would also find themselves in the Calder Valley constituency under the BCE proposals with areas such as Elland, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, which they share little connection to.

The wards of Brighouse and Rastrick, by contrast, do not have much connection to Halifax at all, so including them within the Halifax constituency makes little sense. Residents of these areas gravitate to the centre of Brighouse as the second largest town in Calderdale for shopping and accessing public services.

Counterproposal for an 'Upper Valley' constituency

By Craig Oates

Following the publication of your proposed changes to the existing Parliamentary boundaries I write to you to request that you consider a counter-proposal for the creation of an Upper Valley constituency.

Firstly, may I begin by registering my support for the counterproposals laid before you by the Conservative Party, to move Rastrick into Huddersfield and keep all the other Calderdale wards within the Calderdale constituencies.

This constituency would include the Calderdale wards of Town, Park, Ovenden, Skircoat, Warley, Luddendenfoot, Calder and Todmorden. Five wards from the current Halifax constituency and three wards from the current Calder Valley constituency.

The Calder Valley constituency at present covers a distance of 22 miles between Brighouse in the east and Todmorden in the west. It includes a collection of separate communities and towns that have few links and very little in common. The current review presents an opportunity to realign the constituencies in Calderdale in a way that better reflects local geography and community ties.

The towns, villages and hamlets of the Upper Calder Valley include Todmorden, Walsden, Hebden Bridge, Cornholme, Portsmouth, Heptonstall, Mythomroyd and Luddendenfoot to name but a few. Although these are all separate places, they all recognise, and form part of an area known locally as the 'Upper Valley'. These communities need to be retained together in the same constituency which the counter-proposal for an 'Upper Valley' constituency does. In addition to this, it also links the area with Halifax as it does top the current Calder Valley.

The Upper Valley as a community has a strong identity as a part of the current Calder Valley constituency, it has well-established social, community and business links with Halifax. Many charities, voluntary groups and community organisations span across both areas and they share a common culture. Much of this area has the same postcode and telephone dialling code as Halifax and the transport links between both areas are good. The A646 main road is the main route to Halifax which is a busy commuter link and there are regular rail services between Halifax Train Station and Todmorden, Walsden, Hebden Bridge & Mythomroyd. Furthermore, the people of the Upper Valley, do not have any community links to those of the Lower Valley. People living in Todmorden, Calder or Luddendenfoot are unlikely to go shopping in Sowerby Bridge, Elland or Brighouse. They most typically go to Halifax.

The majority of people in the Upper Valley with whom I have spoken I have spoken would prefer to retain the current constituency configuration however would favour being linked with Halifax in a Parliamentary constituency as part of a new Halifax & Upper Calder Constituency. I think this is a sensible option and it would allow the Upper Valley to maintain its distinct identity whilst being joined to Halifax.