LEIGH MP James Grundy has blasted proposals to split the town between the Makerfield seat and a proposed new 'Leigh South and Atherton' constituency.

Conservative MP Mr Grundy, who was elected to the seat in December 2019, has spoken out against the proposals affecting Leigh by the Boundary Commission for England.

While welcoming the proposed "unification of Atherton" into a single constituency, with the town currently split between Leigh and Bolton West & Atherton, Mr Grundy has hit out at other suggested amendments.

These include placing the Leigh West council ward area into the Makerfield constituency and the dividing of Astley between the Leigh seat and Worsley.

The MP said the change would create an "absurd situation" with "large parts of Leigh town centre" in "a seat made up primarily of Wigan suburbs" and a Makerfield constituency without Ashton.

In a statement, the Leigh MP said: “Whilst I welcome some aspects of these proposals, particularly the unification of Atherton within a single constituency, and recognising the town of Atherton within the constituency name, there are some severe flaws within the proposals overall.

“The Leigh constituency as it is now has grown considerably since the last review due to vast amounts of new development in the area, and as a consequence needs to be reduced in size, however splitting Leigh unequally between two constituencies is not the right approach.

“Taking the Leigh West ward from Leigh and putting it in Makerfield in exchange for Ashton ward creates an absurd situation where you have a Leigh seat where large parts of Leigh town centre would be in a seat made up primarily of Wigan suburbs, and a Makerfield seat without Ashton-in-Makerfield. I predict these proposals will generate strong community opposition on that basis alone.

“This is why I will be strongly advocating for my constituents in the Leigh West ward to remain within the Leigh constituency where they naturally belong, and for Ashton to remain in the Makerfield seat.

“I also have concerns regarding the proposed boundary between Astley and Tyldesley. The boundary as proposed splits Astley between two constituencies, the Leigh seat and the Worsley seat. While this is currently a ward boundary, it is not a natural one."

Mr Grundy added: “I have reached out to both the Labour MP for Makerfield, Yvonne Fovargue, and a senior local Labour councillor in the hope that, just as the last time the Commission proposed a similar split of Leigh, we can present a united front from all political parties on this issue.

“I'll be fighting to 'Keep Leigh in Leigh', and I hope everyone locally, of whatever political persuasion, will back me to the hilt on this, and fight with me to keep our town together.”

The redrawing of the boundaries is intended to reflect population shifts and the government's aim that all Parliamentary constituencies contain roughly the same number of electors.

Under the Boundary Commission for England's proposals, England will have 10 additional House of Commons seats overall once the changes have come into effect. Scotland loses two and Wales loses eight.

There is variation between different regions in England, with, broadly, the south getting more seats ands the north fewer.