MOST Pendle people who spoke at a Boundary Commission public hearing into proposed changes to the Pendle Parliamentary constituency in Preston want no changes made, according to transcripts of the hearings in October published this week.
Only two speakers - one from Barnoldswick and the other a Skipton man who works at Rolls-Royce - supported the break-up of the existing Pendle constituency and placing West Craven in a revised Ribble Valley seat.
The first speaker from Pendle, Earby town councilor Edward Johnson, said it had taken him three hours 20 minutes to travel by public transport from Earby to the heariing at Samlesbury, in the Ribble Valley.
He said Earby had close links with Pendle and Ribble Valley had “limited appeal”.
“Pendle’s a good brand. Pendle is known thoughout the world. Nobody has a big problem, I think, in knowing what Pendle is. Ribble Valley doesn’t have the same brand appeal,” he said.
Businessman Adrian Mitchell, who lives in Barrowford and is boss of a textile firm in Foulridge, said most of his employees came from the West Craven. He said any changes to the Pendle constituency should be made by adding Briercliffe, Cliviger and Worsthorne to it.
He said it would be far more sensible to retain Pendle. “It would be a retrograde step really to have to deal with two MPs and I am sure all firms in Pendle are in the same position. I would submit it would be a waste of resources and inconvenient,” he said.
Speaking in favour of the change, Paula Ann Payne, of Cobden Street, Barnoldswick, said the commission’s recommendations were welcomed and supported by West Craven people.
“Pendle councillors will lose their seats and try scaremonger tactics to retain West Craven, but these are the councillors’ views on a personal level, not the people’s. I spent a day going round Earby and Barnoldswick and had only one adverse,” she said.
Craig Harrison, from Skipton, also supported the changes, citing better road links between West Craven and the Ribble Valley compared to those with Nelson and Burnley.
Mr Noel Buckley, licensee of the Crown Hotel, Colne, said he was strongly opposed to the proposals.
“From my knowledge of the people of Pendle, I can say people live in Pendle, work in Pendle and socialise in Pendle, making Pendle a natural area or a link between all other areas in the towns and villages,” he said.
“When my customers read about the proposed boundary changes, they thought they were daft, stupid and illogical.”
Conservative councillor Tony Beckett told the hearing Pendle had been a “success story” and it did not make sense to remove a large piece of the constituency to replace it with an even larger one.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson spoke at the hearing and agreed with the changes suggested by Mr Mitchell, while Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said the Ribble Valley seat should be broken up with Clitheroe being attached to Pendle.