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Chester and Ellesmere Port Labour MPs face boundary changes

The Boundary Commission for England was set task of slashing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 across country
The existing and proposed boundaries for the City of Chester constituency. Graphic by data analyst John Murray using Open Data. @murraydata

Chester Labour MP Chris Matheson has slammed proposed parliamentary boundary changes as ‘an attack on democracy’.

The Boundary Commission for England seeks to deliver the government’s aim of slashing the number of MPs from 650 to 600.

But Mr Matheson, who would see more Tory areas like Mickle Trafford and Waverton added to the constituency, claims the criteria set by the Conservative government mean the proposals are ‘political’.

However, he appears to believe the actual impact on Chester could have been worse saying his seat is ‘a marginal’ and will ‘remain a marginal’.

Interestingly, the electorate is predicted to decrease from 74,485 to 73,723 as Little Neston and Burton and a rural area beyond Aldford would be lost to neighbouring constituencies.

Chester MP Chris Matheson

The MP’s previous fears that the City of Chester constituency would be split in two – with parts of Ellesmere Port lumped in with Chester and other city communities moved to a new mainly rural constituency called ‘Winsford’ – have not materialised.

“That was based on Conservative briefings but fortunately that hasn’t happened,” he said.

Chester MP Chris Matheson rejects constituency 'merger' with Ellesmere Port

The Chester MP, who was elected in 2015 with a miniscule 93-seat majority, gave his general view.

He said: “These are initial proposals and we will have to wait and see how they come out in the final proposals but the Conservatives’ decision to cut 50 elected members of parliament while also increasing the unelected members of the House of Lords by 260 since 2010 is an attack on democracy.”

Mr Matheson described the process as ‘entirely political’ due to the criteria set for the Boundary Commission.

He added: “They are using the December 2015 electorate which grew by 2m before the referendum. The figures on which the proposed constituencies are based, are wrong. People were not registered to vote particularly in urban area and more traditional Labour areas.”

The existing and proposed boundaries for the Ellesmere Port and Neston constituency. Graphic by data analyst John Murray using Open Data. @murraydata

Under the proposed changes, neighbouring MP Justin Madders’ Ellesmere Port and Neston constituency would remain largely unaltered.

The seat would gain Eastham from Wirral South but give up Mickle Trafford to the City of Chester constituency. In return Mr Madders would take in Little Neston and Burton from Chester.

The constituency presently has 69,223 voters which would increase to 77,028.

Ellesmere Port MP raises fears new constituency could stretch across the Mersey

Previous proposals envisaged part of the constituency being lumped together with wards from Wirral South, Weaver Vale and part of the current Halton constituency, to form a new constituency called Mersey Banks divided by the River Mersey.

Mr Madders commented: “Whatever the Government says, we all know this exercise is really about redrawing the electoral map to benefit the Conservatives.

“I reject the principle of this exercise and I’ll do everything that I can do oppose it. The only saving grace is the constituency remains intact and we are spared the abomination of Mersey Banks.”

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