The Boundary Commission for England is currently underway with it’s review of parliamentary constituencies. Unlike the previous review this process will not see the overall number of MPs reduced.
The review, called the 2023 review, is due to report to parliament no later than 1st July 2023. It’s recommendations will take effect for any election which takes place after that date. Should an early General Election be called, it will be on the current boundaries.
There are changes proposed for Failsworth, which is currently in Ashton-under-Lyne, and instead is proposed to form part of a new Failsworth and Droylsden constituency.
Though there are no changes proposed for Oldham West and Royton or Oldham East and Saddleworth, it is suggested that four wards could move, two each way to create an urban seat (OWR) and a rural seat (OES). This would involve Royton moving to a revised Oldham East, and St. Mary’s and Alexandra moving to a revised Oldham West.
The proposal has no electoral merit, overall impacting on just 149 electors, but would create a great deal of unnecessary turmoil in transferring casework files supporting constituents.
Politics of change
The proposal was immediately jumped on by a far right social media platform who claimed the move was part of a conspiracy to create a “Muslim constituency”. The pattern of using race and religion to cause division in the town is well known, but it is a matter of fact that the move was objected to in my own submission, for factual reasons, but for raw political advantage was backed by Oldham Conservatives.
My submission to the 2023 review stage 1 proposals (July 2021)
I write to you today in my capacity as the Member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton to formally respond to the Boundary Commission for England’s 2023 Review of Parliamentary constituencies, I am on the whole supportive of the Commissions plans to retain the Oldham West and Royton seat in its current form, but there are two issues I would like to raise in response to the report.
You’ll know that the report states “we would particularly welcome representations” on the suggestion of swapping Royton North and South wards – both in Oldham West and Royton – with Alexandra and St Mary’s wards – both in Oldham East and Saddleworth.
This offers completely unnecessary change for almost no overall electoral advantage whatsoever. Alexandra and St. Marys have a current combined electorate of 15,938, against Royton North and Royton Souths 16,087 representing a difference of just 149 electors. This has no material benefit in advancing the commissions primary objective of creating constituencies in order to meet the electorate quota and allowed variations.
It also does not consider the importance of Broadway as an important spine road, which together with Manchester Road connect the constituency through Chadderton and on to Royton and offers practical transport connectivity.
During previous reviews and consultations there have been, albeit unsuccessful, attempts to include Chadderton in the name of the Constituency – I think these proposals have merit and should be looked into once again.
The suggestion from the Chadderton Historical Society, and others in the township I should add, is that the name be altered to Oldham West, Chadderton and Royton as this would better reflect the main population centres of the constituency as that stated aims of the Boundary Commission suggest. The three Chadderton wards make-up around 31% of the population of the Oldham West and Royton Constituency, with the two Royton wards being around 19% of the constituency’s total population. Whilst three-name constituency titles aren’t usual they do exist and I feel this would be a worthwhile exemption to the norm.