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Labour under fire on seats shake-up.

Labour candidates in the North were last night accused of fighting planned electoral boundary changes to protect their safe seats.

Both Doug Henderson, fighting to retain Newcastle North, and Nick Brown, candidate for Newcastle East and Wallsend, have lodged objections to changes put forward by the Boundary Commission.

The proposals are designed to make constituencies more equal in population and more closely linked to council borders.

But Mr Henderson has objected to Lemington being moved out of his constituency, while Mr Brown wants Wallsend to remain in his.

Both claim the proposed changes ( which would come into effect before the next general election, possibly in 2009 ( would go against natural boundaries.

But the Liberal Democrats have accused them of trying to shore up Labour support in their seats. If Lemington is moved into Newcastle Central as proposed, the Lib Dems would control eight out of nine wards in the new constituency. And they would hold more than two-thirds of the council seats in the proposed new Newcastle East seat. Yesterday, Liberal Democrat candidate for Newcastle Central Greg Stone said: "They know that by bolting on places like Wallsend, it would shore up a Labour majority. "

The plans will go before a public inquiry in June.

But Mr Henderson said: "Lemington is clearly a part of the outer west. It always has been and has strong links."

Mr Brown said his proposal would make the size of the constituencies more consistent.

He added it would keep the shipbuilding community together.

The proposed Newcastle constituencies would contain the following wards:

Newcastle Central: Benwell and Scotswood (3 Labour councillors), Blakelaw (3 Lib Dem), Elswick (3 Lab), Fenham (3 Lab), Kenton (3 Lab), Lemington (3 Lab), Westgate (3 Lab) and Wingrove (2 Lab, 1 Lib Dem).

Newcastle East: Byker (3 Lab), Dene (3 Lib Dem), North Heaton (3 Lib Dem), North Jesmond (3 Lib Dem), Ouseburn (3 Lib Dem), South Heaton (2 Lib Dem, 1 Lab), South Jesmond (3 Lib Dem), Walker (3 Lab) and Walkergate (3 Lib Dem).

Newcastle North: Castle (3 Lib Dem), Denton (3 Lib Dem), East Gosforth (3 Lib Dem), Fawdon (3 Lib Dem), Newburn (3 Lab), Parklands (3 Lib Dem), Westerhope (3 Lib Dem), West Gosforth (3 Lib Dem) and Woolsington (3 Lib Dem).
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 29, 2005
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