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'Boundary changes will damage democracy'

Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central, writes exclusively for Confidential

Written by . Published on October 11th 2011.

'Boundary changes will damage democracy'

THE Boundary Commission has published, and will now consult on, proposals for new parliamentary constituencies in Leeds. 

As part of big changes, the Leeds Central constituency – which currently covers the city centre, Hyde Park, Woodhouse, Little London, Lincoln Green, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill, Osmondthorpe, Belle Isle, Middleton, Hunslet, Holbeck, Beeston, and Cottingley – would be abolished.

"It takes time for MPs and their constituents to build up a relationship with each other, yet these changes will seriously damage this link."

I recognise that for many people, how boundaries are set doesn’t keep them awake at night, but for what it’s worth my view is that it is a mistake to split up communities with no regard for links and geography.

The heart of our vibrant city – which currently has one MP – will be split in four different directions with four different MPs. It does not make sense for areas that all have a connection with each other to be separated in this way.

To take two examples: the proposed boundary between the City and Hunslet and Beeston and Holbeck wards in the area of Beeston Hill would just be a line on a map and would split a natural community; the same is true of the planned boundary between the city and Burmantofts and Richmond Hill in the area of Saxton Gardens and some of the other new developments around it which naturally look to the city centre. 

The other concern I have applies to all the seats - in the rest of Leeds and elsewhere - that will be changed. It takes time for MPs and their constituents to build up a relationship with each other, and yet these changes – and the subsequent upheaval that will occur as boundaries alter every five years thereafter – will seriously damage this link. I don’t think that’s good for our democracy.

The plans are now out to consultation, so if you have a view then please contact the Boundary Commission at:



RECENTLY, I attended the first anniversary celebration of the Greenhouse in Beeston – an award-winning low-carbon housing development.

We were told how rainwater harvesting has saved more than one and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water and how solar panels have heated over 27,000 showers.

It was also great for me to see the changes since last year’s opening, including the deli that is now serving residents and the links being built with the local community. The Greenhouse is showing how green living can be done, and what’s more it’s fun and successful.

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