Archive for the ‘Cheshire’ Category


2018 Review: Northwich (Cheshire)

In boundary changes,Cheshire,North West,redistricting on December 11, 2017 by dadge

The Commission has so far missed an excellent opportunity to propose a proper Northwich seat. The town has suffered for too long from being split between seats, and the seats in the Revised Proposals perpetuate this problem:

bce northwich0

(The blue line is the border between the Commission’s proposed Weaver Vale and Eddisbury seats.)

If the Frodsham area is included in the Eddisbury seat this can be rectified. (Frodsham was in the Eddisbury constituency up till 1997, and was also in Eddisbury hundred.) Therefore I counter-propose the following arrangement:

bce eddisbury

Weaver Vale 74,877
Halton 75,381
Eddisbury 73,627
Crewe & Nantwich 72,326



Saving Chester

In boundary changes,Cheshire,North West on December 17, 2012 by dadge

As far as I can see, if the Commission insist on using the temporary 2010 wards for redistricting Cheshire, there’s only one way of forming a seat that doesn’t split Chester and Ellesmere Port.

That’s to have the Broxton and Eddisbury wards with the Chester city wards. This is not ideal, since the Gowy (Tarvin) ward is between Chester and the Eddisbury (Tarporley) ward, but it’s a workable solution. The Gowy and Mickle Trafford wards then go into a Runcorn seat. Dividing Halton between its two towns of Runcorn and Widnes is as least as good an arrangement as the dividing of Halton between 4 seats under the Commission’s proposals. Weaver ward goes into a Northwich & Winsford seat.

Note that in order to create a seat of the required size, Ellesmere Port is paired with Neston and Heswall rather than with Bromborough and Eastham.

The Congleton and Crewe & Nantwich seats could stay as they are, with the Cholmondley ward in the Northwich & Winsford seat, but in order to make that seat more compact I suggest putting Middlewich into it, Cholmondley going into Crewe & Nantwich and Doddington being transferred from Crewe & Nantwich to the Congleton seat.

Finally, Warrington would now be divided between 3 seats, with the Great Sankey area in with Widnes and most of the town south of the Mersey in with Knutsford.


Revised electorates

Wirral 76,342

Ellesmere Port & Heswall 72,837

City of Chester 79,723

Runcorn 79,737

Widnes 80,283

Warrington North 80,168

Warrington South & Knutsford 80,242

Northwich 74,271

Macclesfield 80,265

Congleton 76,345

Crewe & Nantwich 77,337

Update: if the Commission were willing to do a Gloucestershire, the above pattern could be tweaked by moving wards between the Runcorn, Northwich (Eddisbury) and Chester seats to produce version 2, which would also remove the need to change the Crewe and Congleton seats, or even version 3, which is the most similar to the current constituencies, although it’d be a shame not to use such an opportunity to unite Northwich in one seat.

Both these version require the inclusion of the Kelsall and Ashton Hayes parishes – electorate (2008) 2,893 – in the Northwich (Eddisbury) seat. These parishes are in the north east corner of the Gowy ward (See star on map).


Version 2

cheshire 2

Revised electorates:

City of Chester 78,709

Runcorn 78,284

Eddisbury (Northwich) 77,755

Crewe & Nantwich 78,845

Congleton 73,820


Version 3

cheshire 3

Revised electorates:

City of Chester 80,135

Runcorn 77,768

Tatton (Warrington South & Knutsford) 79,967

Eddisbury (Northwich) 77,120

Congleton 73,820

Crewe & Nantwich 78,845


And finally, an attempt to put the Halton and Warrington seats back how they are, if that’s what you prefer…

The basic point is that a single ward-split, as well as allowing Chester and Ellesmere Port to be unsplit, gives plenty of choice about how to configure seats elsewhere in the county.

cheshire 4

Revised electorates:

Halton (Runcorn & Widnes) 79,618

Warrington North 77,975

Warrington South 80,257

Tatton 80,336


Is Halton the whipping boy?

In Birmingham,Cheshire,Merseyside,North West,redistricting on October 20, 2011 by dadge

One of the consequences of the 5% Law is that particular communities get, what’s the best word, leeched? cannibalised? to satisfy the needs of the Boundary Commission. Depending on which metaphor you prefer, their blood or their body parts are removed to give life to constituencies in bigger neighbours. (The technical term I use for this is tacking.)

The relationship of Cheshire to Halton (a council formed from the towns of Widnes and Runcorn) is a case in point. In order to satisfy the requirement for electoral equality – and god forbid that anyone might split a ward instead – the Commission and the political parties have all come up with plans that butcher/drain the district.

Halton has an electorate of 92,550 so at least 12,000 voters do have to find a home in another constituency, and currently some Runcorn wards are in the Weaver Vale seat. That seat’s being abolished, so another home needs to be found. In my plan Cheshire is “full up” so I’ve put some Widnes wards in the St Helen’s South seat.

Whether you like that or not, at least I’ve maintained the principle of only dividing Halton between two seats. Dividing Halton between three seats, as under the Boundary Commission or Lib Dem plans, or four (!) seats, as under the Tory and Labour plans, is unfortunate to say the least, and is not a product of any deep thought about the ties that particular wards have with neighbouring areas*, but simply about making the numbers up in other seats.

*Notice that some of the areas that the main proposals link Halton with are hardly “neighbouring” at all, such is the desperation that is caused by the mania not to split any Cheshire wards. The Commission links Ditton with Bromborough (20 miles), Labour link Beechwood with Chester (15 miles), and the Tories link the eastern edge of Runcorn with Alderley Edge (20 miles).

And the same thing is happening around the country, where, for example, instead of reviewing Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds on their own, with a couple of split wards in each, the Commission is leeching their smaller neighbours.

If splitting wards causes a bit of suffering to the communities in these cities or in Cheshire, isn’t that at least fairer than causing suffering to the communities in their neighbouring areas, whose only crime is to live nextdoor, and where towns are being divided just in order to make life a bit easier for the Commission and its political allies?

If you’d like to make a comment to the Commission about its policy with regard to tacking, you can email them.


Conservative counterproposals – North West England

In Cheshire,Lancashire,Manchester,North West,redistricting,Tories on October 16, 2011 by dadge

Although the Tories’ ideas are, on the whole, a bit better than both the Commission’s and Labour’s, it’s still disappointing that they’ve endorsed the Commission’s methodology. I suppose it’s difficult for the governing party to discredit in any way a supra-governmental (or is it extra-governmental?) body, but on the other hand they are the people who are best placed to do something about the incompetence of the Commission.

Endorsing the Commission’s methodology brings them into direct conflict not only with common sense, but also with their local organisations and MPs. At the Chester hearings, MPs and party members lined up to criticise their own party’s counterproposals regarding Poynton, Henbury, Ellesmere Port, and Chester itself, inasmuch as those counterproposals endorse the Commission’s plans. Shame on their craven central office for hanging them out to dry! Why leave it to your individual MPs and councillors (as well as those few members of the public who understand the process) to suggest that the emperor is parading in the altogether?

Because of Cheshire’s unique position at this Review (a non-metropolitan county with wards of over 10,000 electors each) the counterproposal is bound to be a failure if it doesn’t split any wards. Without splitting wards, the obvious idea of moving the Groves, Weaver and Boughton Heath wards clockwise into the seats they really belong in is made impossible by the fact that it would give Chester an electorate of  80,769. The Guide to the Review does say that ward-splitting may be justified under exceptional circumstances and Cheshire has the most exceptional circumstances in England!


I had to laugh when, after reading this:

“We disagree with the principle of crossing the Mersey at a point with no transport links. The proposed Mersey Banks seat appears to be in conflict with the Commission’s own guidance, contained in the Guide to the 2013 Review, on detached parts. Our plan enables the Mersey Banks seat to extend eastwards
towards Runcorn rather than crossing the Mersey at a point with no links.”

…I noticed that their Warrington South seat has two unlinked parts! And their Tatton seat almost does as well, the only link between Runcorn and the rest of the seat being Newton Lane. It’s also difficult to see the link between Cliviger and Pendle, but the general pattern in East Lancs is good.

Their proposals make some headway on addressing the excessive border- and town-splititng of the Commisssion’s proposals, but they leave some new problems: Reddish, Chadderton, Royton, Clayton and Bredbury are all split, and arrangements in North Manchester are not ideal.


Chester hearings report

In Cheshire,News,North West on October 15, 2011 by dadge

Well, it was an interesting afternoon, and the 3-hour round trip was definitely worth it. I arrived just after 1, just in time to see the current and former MPs for Macclesfield, David Rutley and Nick Winterton, giving their talks.

At 1.45, just after I’d been told that I was about to be called to speak, the phone rang from Birmingham for my live interview with Ed Doolan on Radio WM. I was a bit distracted, but it went okay. My presentation to the hearing went well, I think (It was certainly different!) and the speakers who immediately followed me mentioned that they supported what I’d had to say. I didn’t have any notes for my talk, so you’ll just have to imagine what I said 🙂 but it included my counterproposals for Cheshire.

David Rutley, Nick Winterton and some local colour

Other speakers included Richard Soper, Charles Fifield, Laurence Clarke, Derek Twigg MP, Terry Largan, Gareth Anderson, Stewart Gardiner, Chris Ward and Gabor Bartos.

Gabor, a former mayor of Poynton, spoke about how the town had been “faithful” to Cheshire when the Tories threatened to put it in Greater Manchester, which reminded me immediately of the story of the Sopron plebiscite. Poynton, Cheshire’s answer to Sopron? Now, there’s a thought.

There weren’t many members of the public who’d “just come in off the street” as it were, but there were a few, which was good to see, and the AC made them especially welcome.

I had a slight run-in with the MP for Halton, Derek Twigg, when I noticed that he was criticising the Commission for proposing to split Halton between 3 seats. I asked him what his thoughts are on his party’s counter-proposal, to which he replied “I haven’t come here to discuss that.” And no wonder! His own party proposes to split Halton between 4 seats!

That, plus the fact that I criticised Labour’s proposals in my talk, plus the fact that the event was dominated by Tories, meant I started to feel a bit like I was turning into a Tory…*

The reality is that the Tories must take most of the blame for getting us into this mess into the first place. They’re the party of government and they and the Commission were responsible for laying down the terms of reference for the current Review. It’d be nice if Stephen Mosley and David Rutley now try to dig a bit deeper into finding out whether it really was their government’s intention to make the Review so farcical.

Mark Savill, the Assistant Commissioner, appears to be very good. I’m not sure how he was briefed, but he seemed interested in all the metadiscussion about whether wards can be split and whether the 2011 wards can be used.

It was noticeable that he would not allow any discussion of counter-proposals, except when they were being presented by a speaker. This seemed a shame (How can the Commission evaluate them if they aren’t discussed?) but I sense the reason is that it’s to avoid confusion. All the counter-proposals will be made available early next year, but it would be good to be able to discuss them as well as just to comment on them.

Anyway, one man cleverly got round this restriction by changing his phrasing from “What Labour proposes…” to “If anyone proposes…”. Ha!

*At least I wasn’t wearing a suit. If you haven’t seen Zelig, I recommend it.


Labour counterproposals – North West England

In Cheshire,Labour,Lancashire,Manchester,Merseyside,North West,redistricting on October 13, 2011 by dadge

After another eye-straining session with MS Paint, I’ve done maps of Labour’s proposals for constituencies in Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire:

There are a few minor innaccuracies in their report (e.g. I’ve already found a couple of electorates that are wrong) but this their list as they presented it:

Bootle & Kirkdale 74046
Knowsley* 79334
Liverpool Riverside 76061
Liverpool Walton & Edge Hill 78563
Liverpool West Derby 74732
Sefton Central 77093
Southport** 77555
St Helens North* 75688
St Helens South & Whiston* 78612
Wavertree & Halewood 79659
Birkenhead 74605
Wallasey & Hoylake 76171
Wirral South 77735
North West Cheshire 75507
Congleton* 73820
Crewe & Nantwich* 78845
Ellesmere Port & West Runcorn 76208
Macclesfield 78711
Mid Cheshire 73971
North Cheshire 74092
South West Cheshire 73436
Warrington North 74877
Widnes & Warrington West 80283
Altrincham & Sale West 74199
Cheadle & Poynton 74618
Hazel Grove & Bollington 73260
Ashton-under-Lyne 73668
Blackley & Broughton 79909
Bolton South** 78550
Bolton West 80265
Bury Central & Heywood 74646
Denton & Reddish 74223
Leigh* 77001
Makerfield* 74856
Manchester Central 78616
Manchester Gorton* 74681
Manchester Withington* 73656
Oldham East & Saddleworth 80433
Oldham West & Middleton 80295
Bury South* 75140
Rochdale* 77699
Salford & Eccles* 76863
Stalybridge & Hyde 80177
Stockport 72884
Stretford & Urmston** 77813
Wigan* 76779
Worsley & Eccles South* 73409
Wythenshawe & Sale East* 75602
Bolton North & Darwen 80132
Rossendale & Ramsbottom 78380
Blackburn 78049
Blackpool North & Fleetwood** 80400
Blackpool South** 80402
Burnley & Nelson 80105
Chorley** 79612
Clitheroe & Colne 79877
Fylde** 78304
Garstang & Carnforth 80344
Hyndburn & Padiham 79376
Morecambe & Lancaster 80278
Preston 79330
South Ribble 80058
West Lancashire 79205

Labour’s counterproposal is a curate’s egg: good in parts. As I was drawing the map, now and again I’d think “That’s a good idea”, but a minute later it’d be LOL OMG YCBS…

Labour’s mantra may be “minimum change”, and their proposals may indeed be less radical on average than the Commission’s, but it seems that beacsue they’ve been concentrating on getting certain areas the way they want them, some areas have been left to go hang. The mincing of Runcorn is a case in point, and their Middleton seat vies with the Commission’s as to which is more risible. I thought the idea of putting Cheshire’s northern boundary back to where it was before 1933 was quite sweet, until I noticed there’s a big hole in the seat where they’ve tacked Lymm onto Altrincham.

In the north of the region they’ve done a better job, but what’s with the two new seats of Preston-Central-with-random-bits-of-South-Ribble and Preston North & Morecambe Bay?

towns split between 2 seats: Formby**, West Kirby, Chester, Ellesmere Port**, Cheadle Hulme, Bredbury**, Middleton, Rochdale**, Eccles*, Preston**

towns split between 3 seats: Runcorn, Warrington, Sale, Oldham, Bolton, Bury

orphan wards: Heswall (Wirral)**, Beechwood (Halton), Cholmondeley (Crewe & Nantwich)*, Lymm (Warrington), Poynton (Macclesfield)**, Bollington & Disley (Macclesfield), Atherton (Wigan)*, Tottington (Bury), Chipping (Ribble Valley)

districts divided between 4 seats: Wirral**, Halton, Warrington, Stockport*

districts divided between 7 seats: Cheshire East

* same as current constituencies

** same as Boundary Commission proposals


Kafka in Chester

In Cheshire,North West,redistricting on October 12, 2011 by dadge

Boundary Review hearings are taking place in Chester tomorrow and Friday. I hope to attend, but someone who definitely will be there is Franz Kafka, in spirit at least. I say this because everyone concerned is engaged in a folly – not a monumental folly, but one of considerable size nonetheless. The boundary review of Cheshire’s constituencies is taking place on the basis of an out-of-date map – this map, to be precise:

Those are the 51 council wards of East and West Cheshire (plus the wards of Wirral which is being reviewed with Cheshire) as they stood at May 2010. These wards are very large and were only a temporary measure: when the new councils were formed a couple of years ago (a terrible thing in itself, in which the Conservative and Labour parties connived against the wishes of the people) emergency wards were required and they used, more or less, the old Cheshire county council wards rather than the 163 district wards (which were used at the last Review).

In the meantime the LGBCE has been hard at work, and the new, proper wards were introduced at the elections in May this year. Here they are*:

There are 98 of them, and just think how much easier it would be (and more sensible!) to form new constituencies in the county if we were allowed to use them. Instead, we have to watch the unedifying spectacle of the Commission, the political parties, and everyone else, trying to use the temporary boundaries. What’s the word? The word is kafkaesque.

* By the way, on these maps the thick black lines represent county boundaries and the red lines show current constituency boundaries.

There is a way around this kafkaesque situation. The law says that if you use boundaries you have to use the 2010 boundaries, but the law doesn’t say you have to use those boundaries. Damn, that doesn’t make sense either. Kafka’s ghost must be among the lawmakers.

What’s a guy to do? Well, while I was checking whether I’ve turned into a cockroach, I decided I better do two versions of the Cheshire map. One is based on the 2010 (temporary) boundaries that almost everyone is attempting to use, and involves splitting four wards. The other is based on the 2011 (permanent*) boundaries which doesn’t involve splitting any wards.

On both maps I’ve chosen Eastham, rather than the Heswall ward, to be the Wirral borough ward that becomes part of the Ellesmere Port seat. Heswall ward is really only the centre of Heswall town, which also includes Pensby and Irby, so I think it preserves local ties better to leave it be.

* “Permanent” here meaning until the next LGBCE review of Cheshire, which will be in 12-15 years’ time.

2010 map counter-proposal

Where I’ve split wards for the “2010” seats, the estimated electorates for the part-wards are taken from the last Review. That data is now 10 years old but it’s good enough to provide totals that won’t be out by more than a couple of hundred.

You’ll notice that, unlike the kafkaesque “Mersey Banks“, the Ellesmere Port seat proposed here is almost identical to the current seat. In fact all the seats are similar to current seats, except for the fact that Weaver Vale has disappeared, split between Tatton, Eddisbury and Halton. I’ve moved Haslington into the Congleton seat, where it used to be a few years ago.

Bollington and Disley 11,974
Broken Cross 8,846
Macclesfield Forest 10,161
Macclesfield Town 10,152
Macclesfield West 9,773
Prestbury and Tytherington 8,936
Poynton 11,805
Alderley 10,420
minus Fulshaw -3,863
TATTON 78,054
Bucklow 10,057
Knutsford 10,291
Marbury 10,550
Northwich East and Shakerley 10,275
Northwich West 12,595
Wilmslow North 10,647
Wilmslow South 9,776
plus Fulshaw 3,863
Alsager 9,497
Congleton Rural 10,439
Congleton Town East 10,693
Congleton Town West 11,162
Middlewich 10,424
Sandbach 9,961
Sandbach East and Rode 11,644
plus Haslington 4,564
CREWE 78,710
Crewe East 11,744
Crewe North 10,724
Crewe South 10,954
Crewe West 9,432
Doddington 12,949
Nantwich 11,305
Rope 11,737
minus Haslington -4,564
plus Acton & Audlem 4,429
CHESTER 77,987
Blacon 9,419
City 10,188
Hoole and Newton 9,422
Overleigh 10,738
Upton 9,948
Mickle Trafford 11,066
Boughton Heath and Vicars Cross 10,829
Gowy 11,418
minus Elton & *Mickle Trafford -5,041
Cholmondeley 11,441
Broxton 9,640
Eddisbury 9,539
Winsford North and East 10,813
Winsford South and West 10,384
Frodsham and Helsby 11,030
Weaver 9,965
Abbey 9,815
minus Acton & Audlem -4,429
Central and Westminster 10,161
Grange and Rossmere 10,454
Sutton and Manor 10,063
Neston and Parkgate 11,659
Eastham 11,003
Groves and Whitby 10,373
Ledsham and Willaston 9,159
plus Elton & *Mickle Trafford 5,041
Birkenhead and Tranmere 9,743
Claughton 11,294
Oxton 11,092
Prenton 10,877
Rock Ferry 9,639
Upton 12,173
Bidston and St James 9,787
Clatterbridge 11,705
Greasby, Frankby and Irby 11,546
Pensby and Thingwall 10,554
West Kirby and Thurstaston 10,365
Bromborough 10,730
Bebington 11,832
Heswall 10,968
Leasowe and Moreton East 10,653
Liscard 11,096
Moreton West and Saughall Massie 10,794
New Brighton 10,807
Seacombe 10,425
Wallasey 11,957
Hoylake and Meols 10,439

*The former Mickle Trafford ward of the former Chester district council

2011 map counter-proposal

The electorates given for the “2011” seats are calculated on the basis of the figures given in the LGBCE reports, which are from 2008, which are therefore slightly out of date, but not by a significant amount.

Macclesfield Central 6728
Macclesfield East 3535
Macclesfield Hurdsfield 3539
Macclesfield South 6540
Macclesfield Tytherington 7176
Macclesfield West 6319
Bollington  6723
Broken Cross 6554
Disley 3604
Gawsworth 3212
Poynton East 6485
Poynton West 7105
Sutton 3614
Prestbury 3610
Alderley Edge 3680
TATTON 79,015
Chelford 3307
High Legh 3528
Knutsford 10261
Mobberley 3604
Handforth 6785
Wilmslow Dean Row 3357
Wilmslow East 3306
Wilmslow Lacey Green 3717
Wilmslow West 7634
Witton 6503
Winnington 6880
Marbury 9746
Davenham 10387
Congleton East 10656
Congleton West 10797
Brereton 3869
Alsager 9588
Dane Valley 7562
Odd Rode 6944
Sandbach Elworth 3652
Sandbach Ettiley Heath 3486
Sandbach Heath 3579
Sandbach Town 3896
Shakerley 3290
Middlewich 10550
CREWE 77,589
Crewe Central 3437
Crewe East 10428
Crewe North 3613
Crewe South 6985
Crewe St Barnabas 3297
Crewe West 7536
Nantwich North 6912
Nantwich South 6408
Leighton 3926
Shavington 3249
Willaston 3883
Wistaston 7537
Wybunbury 3765
Haslington 6613
Bunbury 3511
Wrenbury 3654
Audlem 3686
Winsford Over 9784
Winsford Wharton 7008
Winsford Swanlow 6989
Tarporley 3621
Tarvin 6564
Gowy 3064
Helsby 3832
Frodsham 7290
Kingsley 3499
Weaver 10267
Hartford 6594
CHESTER 79,447
Saughall 3561
Dodleston 2924
Lache 3752
Handbridge Park 7055
Blacon 9494
Garden Quarter 2603
Chester City 2481
Great Boughton 7145
Boughton 3541
Hoole 6705
Newton 7140
Upton 6333
Chester Villages 6721
Farndon 3141
Malpas 3248
Tattenhall 3603
Little Neston 7157
Neston 3248
Parkgate 3128
Willaston 3236
Netherpool 2451
Rossmore 2426
St Paul’s 6982
Ledsham 6597
Grange 3563
Sutton 7354
Whitby 6729
Strawberry 3714
Ellesmere Port Town 6538
Elton 3382
Eastham 11003