MP blasts re-naming of his constituency

AN MP has raised strong objections to plans by the Boundary Commission to change his current constituency to create a new ‘Rawmarsh’ one.

Wentworth and Dearne Valley MP John Healey fears that the new constituency, that would omit Goldthorpe, Thurnscoe and Bolton to extend further in to Rotherham, would not flourish under its proposed new name.

He points out that there is already a Rawmarsh Council ward, and that many townships would not feel a natural affinity to the name.

Wickersley Parish Council has objected formally to the name ‘Rawmarsh’. And concerns have been voiced by both Rotherham Council and Wath Community Partnership.

A much better proposal, Mr Healey suggests, would be to name the constituency Rotherham North - to most accurately describe the area it covers.

He said in a submission to the Boundary Commission for England that although the Commission has done a “sound and sensible job” with South Yorkshire’s new constituencies, there is a “wide unease” with the name of Rawmarsh.

Mr Healey goes on to explain that the former mining communities within the constituency have very strong, very local senses of identity.

He continues: “Many residents in the towns and villages in other parts of the proposed constituency will feel no affinity or identity with Rawmarsh, which may be 10 miles from where they live.

“Being the ‘MP for Rawmarsh’ would be a drawback and unnecessary barrier in serving constituents in communities like Brampton, Wath, Swinton, Dalton, Thrybergh, Bramley or Wickersley”.

All the wards are as significant as Rawmarsh due to the size of their central towns or villages, or wider geographical area, said Mr Healey.

The current Wentworth and Dearne constituency takes in Ravenfield, Rawmarsh, Kilnhurst, Swinton, Wath, West Melton, Brampton, Harley, Wentworth, Bolton, Goldthorpe, Thurnscoe and parts of Bramley, Wickersley and Thrybergh.

And within the new Rawmarsh area would be Wingfield, Hoober, Silverwood and Valley, with Wickersley, Rawmarsh, Swinton and Wath.

Mr Healey added: “There is a weakness in the proposal in national terms. As an elected representative in the UK Parliament, it is preferable for any MP to have a consituency that indicates clearly to others where he or she represents.

“For all its great strengths - and it was our family home for eight years - Rawmarsh does not command the wider national recognition that Rotherham does”.

The Boundary Commission Review aims to slash 50 MP representations nationally - a move Mr Healey has opposed on grounds that: “Many people feel remote from MPs and politics; bigger constituencies are likely to reinforce this concern”.

Public consultation over the proposed boundary changes, that would reduce the number of constituencies from 533 to 502, closed on Monday, after 36 public hearings around the country.

But there may be further consultation before the final recommendations are made by the Commission on October 1 2013.

In South Yorkshire, just one constituency would be lost under the current proposals, leaving a total of 13. All submitted representations will be published in full.