Plans to move Crown Oil Arena into neighbouring Heywood constituency branded ‘illogical, insensitive and a little bit ridiculous’
Date published: 30 June 2021
Plans to redraw local constituency boundaries so that the home of Rochdale AFC and Rochdale Hornets would be in the neighbouring Heywood constituency have been branded ‘ridiculous’.
Earlier this month, the Boundary Commission published proposals to change the boundaries of the two local constituencies – Rochdale and Heywood & Middleton – in order to facilitate an increase in the number of parliamentary constituencies from 533 to 543.
The independent body has a duty to ensure the number of voters in each seat is ‘roughly the same’ to ensure a fair electoral system which would mean changes are required to the boundaries of the local constituencies.
In the borough of Rochdale, the proposals include moving Spotland and Falinge ward out of the Rochdale constituency into the neighbouring Heywood & Middleton constituency – which could be renamed as just ‘Heywood’ – taking the town’s sports stadium with it.
One person who is less than impressed with that suggestion is Rochdale’s Liberal Democrat leader Andy Kelly.
Councillor Kelly, who was raised in Spotland, said: “The proposal to move Spotland and Falinge into Heywood would move Spotland Stadium [now known as the Crown Oil Arena], Denehurst Park and Turner Brothers into a Heywood constituency.
“Unless you are from Heywood, there will be no one who lives in the ward who would identify with the town of Heywood.
“It is unclear at this stage whether the proposal includes Rochdale’s own boundary changes, if so both Lower Falinge flats and College Bank [also known as the Seven Sisters] would also come under Heywood.”
He continued: “I understand that the changes need to come somewhere but this idea is illogical, insensitive and a little bit ridiculous.”
His views are shared by lifelong Rochdale AFC fan Ian Wright, from Littleborough – also a member of the Dale Supporters Trust.
“I’m not happy about it really, it’s practically placing Rochdale FC into another borough [sic] and diluting the name and history of the Dale,” he said.
The 57-year-old added: “Rochdale FC is an integral part of Rochdale and shouldn’t be represented by another borough [sic].
“I think it’s extremely important that this area does not lose its identity and become part of a borough [sic] whose centre is a couple of miles further away than Rochdale town centre.”
The review has already sparked controversy in Middleton – whose name would be wiped from the parliamentary map under the proposals as they stand.
It would see South Middleton and East Middleton wards hived off to a new ‘Manchester Blackley’ constituency, while West Middleton and North Middleton would be part of the new ‘Heywood’ seat.
The Boundary Commission will present its final recommendations to Parliament by July 2023.
Members of the public are encouraged to take part in an online consultation where they can comment on anything from where the proposed new boundary lines are to the names of the constituencies.
There will be a further two rounds of consultation in 2022. Following the conclusion of all three consultation periods, the commission will look at all the evidence received before forming its final recommendations.
The current consultation closes on 2 August.
People can have their say on the proposals here: www.bcereviews.org.uk
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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