Tories attempt to influence changes in boundaries: Fears about Labour in Nottinghamshire

A BLATANT attempt to influence the drawing up of new local government boundaries to prevent Labour from taking control in Nottinghamshire has been uncovered.

The chairmen of the eight Conservative Associations in Nottinghamshire, outside the city, have unanimously agreed to put forward proposals as the best way forward 'from the Conservative Party's point of view'. The Local Government Commission, chaired by Sir John Banham, is examining ways of changing the two-tier structure of district and county councils.

The Independent has obtained a confidential letter written by Nigel Cutts, chairman of Rushcliffe Conservative Association, to Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor and MP for Rushcliffe, in Nottinghamshire, on behalf of the eight associations. He says they have decided unanimously to 'consider the best way forward from the Conservative Party's point of view, ie. what proposal . . . would give the best Conservative solution for the whole county.

'We compared the various options considered and rejected by the district, city and county councils from the electoral viewpoint, and it was instantly clear that some options would deliver an entirely Labour county.

'It is disappointing that the Tory-controlled district councils have not yet shown any inclination to think on a county-wide Conservative basis. To lose any districts to Labour-controlled or 'hung' unitary authorities would seriously weaken the Conservative Associations and their ability to campaign or raise funds, to the great detriment of the Westminster constituencies involved (Broxtowe, Gedling and Newark & Retford are all at risk here).'

Broxtowe is held by Jim Lester, Gedling by Andrew Mitchell, and Newark by Richard Alexander, all Conservative seats.

The letter goes on to say that in the absence of any proposals offering amalgamation of districts 'it is possible that the Commission itself would propose one of the solutions that could generate a totally Labour county. We would be forced to fight a rearguard action to overcome this, and would be fighting from a position of weakness'.

To forestall this possibility the Tory associations had made a private submission to the Commission for four unitary authorities based on the City of Nottingham, East Notts, West Notts and South Notts. It says that taking 1989 local election results as more normal than those in 1993, 'we would control two of the authorities (East and South) but very importantly 75 per cent of the land area of the county and covering all four Conservative Westminster constituencies' (the three mentioned plus Kenneth Clarke's seat).

The letter ends: 'I strongly urge you to support our submission by having a word with your colleagues in the DOE - John Gummer (Secretary of State for the Environment) and David Curry (local government minister) to whom I have also sent copies.'

Martin Gawith, Labour deputy leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said the letter was a deliberate attempt to manipulate the review. 'This gerrymandering is a cynical attempt to bolster the strength of local Conservative parties and is directly in contravention of the declared aims of the review to obtain the best structures to deliver the most beneficial services at a local level. Though Conservative meddling has been suspected in the past, never has it been so blatant.'

Mr Cutts was unavailable for comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones