Labour seats to get influx of Tory voters under Commons shake-up
THOUSANDS of Tory voters in East Yorkshire face being placed in Labour heartlands under proposals unveiled today by the Boundary Commission.
The move would see Labour MP Alan Johnson’s Hull West and Hessle seat extended to include the East Riding villages of Kirk Ella and Swanland at the next general election.
An influx of Conservative voters in a new-look Hull West and Hessle constituency could squeeze Mr Johnson’s grip on a seat he’s held since 1997, threatening his 5,740 majority.
The three East Riding wards now
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being earmarked for his constituency
have a combined electorate of 26,690. Similarly, Mr Johnson’s Labour colleague
Karl Turner’s Hull East constituency would take in Hedon and Preston for the first time.
Mr Turner secured an 8,597 majority last year after succeeding former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott as the Labour MP in Hull East.
Residents and civic leaders in some of the towns affected by the change have reacted with fury.
Hedon estate agent John Dennis said: “To think we have anything in common with any of the areas of Hull is absolutely bonkers.”
Former teacher-turned-author Margaret Raymond, who lives in Kirk Ella, said: “I think Kirk Ella, West Ella and Swanland might convince west Hull to become Tory.”
The shake-up is part of a national review of parliamentary constituencies aimed at reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600.
In East Yorkshire, the seven current constituencies would be replaced by six new ones. They are:
Hull East – including all the existing east Hull wards, together with the East Riding ward of South West Holderness covering Hedon and Preston.
Hull North – no change apart from the addition of Derringham ward, currently in Hull West and Hessle.
Hull West and Hessle – Alan Johnson’s patch is extended to include the East Riding wards of South Hunsley, Tranby, and Willerby and Kirk Ella.
Beverley – Conservative MP Graham Stuart’s seat loses its Holderness wards, but gains new wards covering Driffield, Pocklington and Market Weighton.
Bridlington – Holderness wards covering Hornsea, Withernsea and Patrington go into Tory MP Greg Knight’s constituency, alongside Bridlington.
Goole and Cottingham – a new-look seat linking up England’s most inland port with England’s biggest village, along with Brough and Howden.
The proposals, which herald a 12-week consultation period starting today, could spell the end for the existing Haltemprice and Howden and Brigg and Goole constituencies, currently represented by Conservative MPs David Davis and Andrew Percy respectively.
Mr Davis, who has been a local MP since 1987, has previously indicated he wants to stand again at the next general election, but could face a challenge from Mr Percy, who was a city councillor in Hull and a teacher before becoming an MP last year. Yesterday, after the Boundary Commission proposals were released to MPs under embargo, Mr Percy Tweeted: “Interesting! Anyone know of any teaching jobs?”
Mr Davis was unavailable for comment.
Bobby Silby, a Hull-based Labour activist, said: “The proposals are not as radical as I thought, but the casualty is not going to be Diana Johnson or Karl Turner, as we were expecting, but Andrew Percy.
“His seat will be carved up between Scunthorpe and Haltemprice and Howden, meaning he will have to challenge Labour in Scunthorpe or fight David Davis for selection.”
None of the region’s Labour MPs would comment on the proposals, referring instead to a national party statement expressing concerns about “gerrymandering” by the Government over the issue.
However, Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s shadow Lord Chancellor, said: “The Conservative legislation on which this review will be carried out is ill-thought through and the product of partisan politics, and is likely to cause pointless disruption and the break-up of long-standing communities."
As part of the consultation, a two-day public hearing examining the proposals will be held at Hull City Hall on October 24 and 25.
Boundary Commission secretary Simon James said: “Parliament has set clear rules on what we can and can’t do when it comes to developing our initial proposals.”
The commission will have to put a final set of recommendations to Government by October 2013, before MPs vote on the plans.