RADICAL changes to Parliamentary boundaries are ‘appalling’ for Barnsley  according to leader of the council Sir Steve Houghton, who said he could hardly imagine how anyone could have done a worse job redrawing the borough’s political map.

The proposals are designed to make constituencies across the country more equal in number of voters and to reduce the overall number of MPs from 650 to 600.

However, the final proposals outlined by the Boundary Commission for England this week see the number of MPs covering Barnsley increase from four to five.

The proposals see Dan Jarvis’s Barnsley Central constituency disappear completely with its voters distributed between two new constituencies Barnsley West and Stocksbridge and Barnsley East and Hemsworth.

Barnsley has no constituency of ‘its own’, with all five set to include parts of other boroughs including Sheffield, Wakefield, Doncaster and Kirklees.

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“These changes are appalling for Barnsley,” said Coun Houghton. “I struggle to think how they could have made a worse job of it.

“Instead of having two or three MPs dedicating their attention to Barnsley, some of our communities are going to become peripheral to other areas, and peripheral to their MPs. That does not give them the representation they need.

“We put forward an alternative, but the Electoral Commission has taken no notice, this is purely a numbers job.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said: “I am concerned about the impact of these proposed boundary changes on Barnsley.

“We have had a Barnsley MP since the 1885 Reform Act, and two MPs who have represented just Barnsley since 1983. The proposed boundaries will dilute our town’s representation in Parliament as they will result in five different MPs representing different parts of our borough, and none solely representing Barnsley.

“Regardless of which way you vote, we should all be concerned about proposals that will weaken Barnsley’s standing on the national stage. I will not be supporting the Boundary Review in its present form, and will vote against it.”

Initial proposals were drawn up in 2016 which would have seen Barnsley carved up into six different constituencies, with just one ‘proper’ constituency which was located entirely with Barnsley.

The follow-up proposals and these final proposals leave it with none. Residents living in central Barnsley would be in a constituency with the people of Howden in the Peak district, while people in Penistone would live in a constituency stretching as far north as the M62.

Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock said: “The new boundary proposals will dilute Barnsley’s currently unified voice in Parliament at a time when it’s needed most.

“In breaking up Barnsley borough from Barnsley East and Barnsley Central, the proposed boundaries will instead split Barnsley’s representation thinly across a number of constituencies with few or no existing ties.

“Any changes should take into consideration our community’s ability to represent itself forcefully in Westminster.”

The new constituencies are: Barnsley West and Stocksbridge, which includes the council wards of Central, Old Town, Kingstone, Worsbrough, Dodworth, Darton East, Darton West, Penistone East and parts of north Sheffield.

Barnsley East and Hemsworth, including council wards Stairfoot, Darfield, Dearne North, Monk Bretton, Cudworth, St Helens, Royston, North East, and parts of Wakefield including Hemsworth.

Colne Valley and Penistone includes the Penistone West Ward and the rest falls under Kirklees.
Wentworth and Hoyland includes Hoyland Milton, Rockingham, Wombwell and parts of Rotherham, including Wath.

Doncaster North includes the Dearne South Council ward.

Parliament approved the principle of reducing the number of MPs in 2011.