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Northern Powerhouse Minister Can't Tell Difference Between Merseyside And Cheshire Constituencies

A Labour MP told James Wharton that he should probably buy a map.

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The government's Northern Powerhouse minister has been told to "invest in a map" after he confused constituencies in Cheshire and Merseyside in a letter to a Labour MP.

Writing to the Labour MP for Wirral South, Alison McGovern, James Wharton said he wanted to "congratulate you on the successful bid for the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone in your constituency".

Eighteen so-called Enterprise Zones were introduced at the beginning of April and will give discounts on business rates, as well as tax relief for companies investing huge sums in plants and machinery.

The problem with Wharton's letter is that McGovern's Wirral South constituency is in Merseyside, not Cheshire – and none of the new Enterprise Zones are in her constituency.

McGovern had sharp words for Wharton, suggesting he might buy a map. "I'm delighted for people in Cheshire that they have a shiny new science corridor, but I don't really see what this has to do with my constituency on Merseyside," she said.

And this isn't the first time Wharton has made such a mistake.

In November the Northern Powerhouse minister wrote to McGovern to tell her that there may be new Enterprise Zone sites in her constituency. When she wrote back to ask where, he said he had new information that showed the sites actually fell in another constituency.

"After last time, you would have thought the minister for the Northern Powerhouse might have invested in a map," McGovern said. "I know he is finding rebalancing the economy a struggle, but getting the basic geography right isn't rocket science."

In July last year, Wharton was also forced to admit that the government had yet to define what exactly makes up the North.

The Department for Communities and Local Government did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

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