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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

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Changing boundaries for our nuclear industry?

THE make-up of Britain’s Energy Coast could be set to change with proposals to cut the number of parliamentary constituencies.

Cumbria would be split into five constituencies – a reduction of one, if government proposals are given the green light.

Under the proposals, a Barrow-in-Furness constituency would stretch from Barrow to Grange. A new Copeland and Windermere constituency would include the entirety of Copeland, and extend along the coast from Millom to Harrington.

A Kendal and Penrith constituency would combine Kendal, Penrith, Appleby-in-Westmorland, Kirkby Lonsdale, Kirkby Stephen, and Sedbergh in a constituency that extends from the outskirts of Carlisle to the Lancashire border.

A Workington and Keswick constituency would take in Dalston, most of Allerdale and four District of Eden wards while the Carlisle constituency would be made up of all but one City of Carlisle wards.

The Boundary Commission for England has just completed a public consultation on the proposals, which ended on December 5, 2011.

In response to the proposals, Copeland Borough Council submitted its own alternative solution. The council has suggested a West Cumbrian parliamentary seat embracing Sellafield and the rest of the local nuclear industry.

Both the Labour and Conservative parliamentary constituency associations also favour a single West Cumbria seat – but with the proviso that the industry is carved up politically between West Cumbria and Barrow. It would mean Sellafield being represented by two MPs instead of one.

Copeland Borough Council has officially given its backing to a single West Cumbrian seat, to be made up of Arlecdon, Beckermet, Bransty, Cleator Moor North, Cleator Moor South, Distington, Egremont North, Egremont South, Ennerdale, Frizington, Gosforth, Harbour (Whitehaven), Hensingham, Hillcrest, Kells, Mirehouse, Moresby, St Bees, Sandwith, Seascale.

The council’s preference is for Seascale and Gosforth to stay put in the proposed single West Cumbrian constituency and allow Bootle, Haverigg, Holborn Hill, Millom Without and Newtown to become political “bedfellows” with 13 existing Barrow borough wards, plus another eight from South Lakeland. Copeland Council stands firm with the two rival political associations in opposing the Boundary Commission’s own view, that Copeland and Windermere should join forces, but don’t agree on the crucial nuclear factor. The national Labour and Tory parties want the nuclear site split, and this view is reflected locally by the respective associations. They contend it will give the industry an even stronger voice in parliament regardless of who wins the proposed new Barrow seat.

But as most Copeland councillors are members of the respective associations, the prospect of a “nuclear split” has left mixed feelings. The council’s proposal was agreed at its last meeting but it was not put to the vote. The Boundary Commission will launch an additional, four-week consultation period later in Spring 2012, allowing counter submissions to be registered. The final recommendations will be submitted to the Secretary of State by October 2013.

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