Sefton’s councillors have voted to oppose changes plans that would see Ainsdale removed from the Southport political constituency.
A motion filed by Labour councillor Greg Myers moves “that Sefton Council rejects in the strongest possible terms the Boundary Commission’s plan to remove Ainsdale from the Southport constituency” and that the Council “writes to the Commission making clear our opposition.”
In June as part of its 2023 Review, the Boundary Commission unveiled plans move Ainsdale into Sefton Central, while Southport would gain North Meols, Rufford, Tarleton and Hesketh-with-Becconsall, which are currently part of the South Ribble constituency.
South Ribble has elected a Conservative MP since 2010 and regularly returns Conservative councillors to South Ribble Borough Council, meaning the changes are likely to boost Conservative chances in Southport.
Parliamentary constituency boundaries are reviewed periodically to take account of changes in population. Changes are also made to reflect local government boundary changes, so that administrative boundaries supposedly coincide as much as possible.
Political constituencies must have a electoral population between 69,724 and 77,064. Under the current boundary, Southport currently has 71,037 electors, which would increase to 74,168 under the new plans.
The Boundary Commission said of the changes: “Although it is possible to retain the existing Southport constituency wholly unchanged within the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, we consider that this would result in significant disruptive knock-on effects throughout the North West, with the consequences extending across Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire.
“We therefore propose that the four Borough of West Lancashire wards of North Meols, Hesketh‑with‑Becconsall, Tarleton, and Rufford be included in the proposed Southport constituency.
Councillor Myer’s motion reads: “The Boundary Commission has admitted that the radical changes it has proposed for the Southport constituency are not justified in terms of the electorate.
“Instead, it tries to explain them by claiming they will “… better respect both local ties and boundaries of existing constituencies…”.
“They intend to cleave away Ainsdale, an area with very close ties to Southport, and replace it with various bits of the current South Ribble constituency which simply do not have anywhere near the same connection to our town.
“Let us be clear, these changes do not better respect local ties – they sever them.”
“An integral part of us should not be torn away simply because it makes life easier for others.”
An eight week public consultation is now underway, meaning the plans may yet be changed. However one councillor told OTS News it would be “very difficult” to convince the Boundary Commission to amend the proposals.
Cllr John Pugh has previously said that the plans: “can only be the result of a bloodless mathematical exercise done on a Whitehall desk.”
Cllr Tony Brough, leader of the local Conservative group, said last month: “I think that the areas proposed under the review to join the parliamentary district of Southport will be delighted at the prospect of having Damien Moore as their MP.
“Damien has worked tirelessly for Southport and will do no less for those areas identified under the review that are recommended for inclusion in a wider Southport constituency.”