Middleton’s name still stands to be wiped off parliamentary map under revised constituency shake-up

Date published: 09 November 2022

Middleton’s name still stands to be wiped off the parliamentary map in the latest proposals for reforming the parliamentary constituencies which were published by the Boundary Commission for England this week.

This is the final public consultation on the new map of revised constituency proposals, which is open now until 5 December.

Last year, 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, as requested by Parliament.

The number of electors within each constituency currently varies widely due to population changes since the last boundary review.

There have been no revisions made to the suggested new boundaries for Rochdale or Heywood & Middleton since the initial proposals which split Middleton between two constituencies.

These would see the wards of South Middleton and East Middleton hived off to a new ‘Manchester Blackley’ constituency, while the West and North Middleton wards would be part of ‘Heywood county’.

Aside from the proposals for South and East Middleton, the boundary for the new Heywood constituency would remain unchanged from the current Heywood & Middleton boundary, save for Spotland & Falinge moving over from Rochdale. 

The changes would see Rhodes and Alkrington becoming part of the new Manchester Blackley constituency along with the area around Grimshaw Lane and Kenyon Lane, including Middleton Technology School.

It means that there would be nine council ward areas in the Rochdale constituency and nine in the new Heywood constituency compared with ten in each of the current constituencies.

The Rochdale constituency boundary would remain the same, save for Spotland & Falinge ward moving over to the new Heywood constituency. This would see the Crown Oil Arena, home of Rochdale AFC and Rochdale Hornets along with Oulder Hill and Falinge Park secondary schools being moved to the new Heywood constituency.


Middleton town centre
Middleton town centre


There was an outcry when the ‘crazy’ plan to split Middleton between two constituencies was unveiled last summer.

Prior to the creation of the Heywood and Middleton constituency in 1983, the historic town had come under Middleton and Prestwich for 65 years and the old Middleton county constituency between 1885 and 1918.

There has been widespread dismay this week, after it emerged that the commission was sticking with its plans – which would see the name of Middleton disappear from parliament for the first time in 147 years.

Among those to slam the proposal – which forms part of the commission’s final consultation – is Rochdale council leader Neil Emmott.

“These proposals are extremely disappointing,” Councillor Emmott told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

“It will be the first time the name of Middleton does not appear in the name of a parliamentary constituency since 1885, that’s 147 years. Secondly, it’s the first time ever that Middleton will be split in two for parliamentary purposes since it became part of the South Lancashire Constituency in the Great Reform Act of 1832 which is even before Queen Victoria came to the throne.”

However he called on Middleton folk not to give up hope of forcing a U-turn.

“There is still time to write in opposing these proposals and I urge all Middleton residents to do so to keep our town whole and to keep the name of Middleton on the parliamentary map,” he said.


St Leonard’s Church


It’s a view shared by Middleton Independents Party, which has four members on the council following this year’s local elections.

Councillor Peter Allonby, who represents North Middleton, said: “Middleton Independents Party are dismayed to see that it is still proposed to remove the name Middleton from the revised parliamentary constituencies and, indeed, to split the town in two under the plans.

“The history of Middleton pre-dates the Norman Conquest by some way and, until the mid 19th century, it was by far the most important town in the area. Far more so than Rochdale, Oldham or even Manchester. We lost our identity once in 1974 when we became part of Rochdale MBC.”

He added: “Now we are to have our name wiped off the parliamentary map and, worse still, have two MPs for the different parts of town. This proposal is totally unacceptable.”

Councillor Dylan Williams, a Labour councillor for East Middleton said he was ‘gutted’ when he discovered the commission had not changed its mind, describing the news as ‘terrible’.

“It’s such a shame that Middleton is losing its name on the parliamentary map,” he said. “At the end of the day, Middleton is bigger than Heywood and it’s bigger than Blackley and it’s one of the bigger towns.

“It even splits Middleton town centre into two separate constituencies, because Middleton town centre comes under North ward and South ward. It’s really sad.”


Middleton Arena & Tesco Extra


A new BCE report says that assistant commissioners ‘noted the considerable body of objections – and the quality of the evidence – from Middleton residents opposed to the division of their town, and the calls to have their town’s name included in that of the constituency’.

But while they ‘acknowledged that the division of the town would not be an ideal outcome’ they considered the alternatives ‘would cause extensive disruption to neighbouring constituencies and therefore fail to provide a better overall pattern of constituencies for this wider area’.

The report adds: “They considered carefully whether the name of Middleton should be referenced in the name of either proposed constituency, but were ultimately not persuaded that it should be.”

It continues: “They therefore recommended no revisions to the initially proposed constituencies of Heywood, Rochdale, and Manchester Blackley. We agree with their recommendations.”

A third and final consultation on the new map of revised constituency proposals is open now until 5 December. The public are invited to view and comment on the new map at www.bcereviews.org.uk.

After this final consultation has closed on 5 December, the Commission will analyse the responses and form its final recommendations. These will be submitted to Parliament by 1 July 2023.

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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