Sheffield Labour says “politically motivated” boundary changes are meant to damage Labour

The government’s proposed boundary changes are “clearly aimed at damaging Labour,” the Sheffield Labour party has said.

Labour said the plans, which would redraw every parliamentary seat in Sheffield, were politically motivated and based on an out of date electoral register.

The first round of public consultation on the boundary review closes on Monday.

CLICK on picture for interactive map: How boundary changes affect you
CLICK HERE for interactive map: How boundary changes affect you.

The changes would affect former party leaders Nick Clegg and Natalie Bennett as they compete for seats in Sheffield.

Sheffield Hallam, which re-elected Mr Clegg as its MP in 2015, will grow to include Stocksbridge, where UKIP performed well in council elections in May.

Anthony Wells, an election expert, calculated this week that Labour would have won Mr Clegg’s seat if the new boundaries had been in place in 2015.

Nick Clegg, by Chatham House London. Creative Commons 2.0 licence.
Nick Clegg, by Chatham House London. Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

But the Liberal Democrats won most of the Hallam seat at the council elections, with commanding victories in the Fulwood, Stannington and Dore and Totley wards.

The Boundary Commission said it recognised the Hallam and Stocksbridge seat was unusually large, stretching from southern Sheffield to the Barnsley area, but that it was necessary to keep a similar number of voters in each seat.

Crookes, which has more voters than any other Sheffield ward, will move away from the Hallam seat, and into the city centre constituency which former Green party leader Ms Bennett is hoping to win at the next general election.

Much of Ecclesall would also join the new Sheffield Central and West seat.

Sheffield Green party said it had suggested some changes to the plans, by moving Ecclesall, Greenhill and Nether Edge back to their original constituencies.

Greenhill would move from the outgoing Sheffield Heeley seat to become part of the larger Hallam constituency, while Nether Edge, which currently belongs to Sheffield Central, would be part of the new Sheffield South seat.

The proposed changes could create some “difficult and confusing boundaries,” said Rob Murphy, Green councillor for the City ward.

Labour said it would not submit an alternative until later in the consultation.

The Boundary Commission says Sheffield was a “challenging” place to draw constituency boundaries, since local wards are particularly large and the city is constricted in the south-west corner of the Yorkshire and the Humber region.