Leigh to stay in Leigh!

Andy Burnham and Trevor Barton
Andy Burnham and Trevor Barton
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LEIGH will stay the same after a dramatic U-turn by the Boundary Commission.

In the revised proposals announced this week, the Commission announced it no longer plans to redraw the boundaries of the town.

And local MP Andy Burnham declared: “This is a famous victory for Leigh.”

The controversial proposals were part of a Government scheme to regularise the number of voters across constituencies.

In the case of Leigh it would have meant a number of eyebrow raising anomalies – including Leigh losing it’s town hall to Westhoughton.

The announcement is a terrific victory for the Keep Leigh in Leigh campaign marshalled by Mr Burnham and Centurions chief executive Trevor Barton – and backed by the Leigh Reporter.

It also triggered a rare show of cross party unity when Leigh Tories also came out strongly against the proposal, adding their name to the joint letter of protest.

The threat to redraw Leigh, which would also have seen much of existing Tyldesley annexed from the proposed new constituency, raised genuine indignation and anger across the town.

When the consultation deadline closed more than 3,500 had signed a petition or written a response to the Boundary Commission in London.

Under the bid, Leigh would have been split into three constituencies with the existing ‘civic and cultural heart of the town’ pushed into Westhoughton.

Campaigners attacked the scheme for being a random creation that sought to link places that have “no ties and no shared history” contrary to the criteria laid down by Parliament for the commission to follow.

Under the proposals, key wards that make up the historical boundaries of Leigh town, notably Leigh West and Atherleigh, would no longer have formed part of the constituency and key icons of the local community, including Leigh Town Hall, Leigh Parish Church and Leigh Library – the civic, religious and cultural heart of the town – moved to Westhoughton constituency. Geographically linked and significant places’ including Pennington Flash and the redeveloped Bickershaw Colliery site would also have been lost.

Mr Burnham had described the proposals as “disrespectful of our town, it’s people and it’s history.”

But he was delighted by the Boundary Commission’s U-turn.

He said: “This is a famous victory for Leigh.”