Ossett cum Gawthorpe was a township in the ancient parish of Dewsbury; it became a civil parish in 1866, and was incorporated as the Municipal Borough of Ossett in 1890. Under the Local Government Act 1972, it became an unparished area in the City of Wakefield. In an earlier draft of the Act, Ossett was to be part of the Kirklees district on the grounds that the area was originally part of Dewsbury; after an appeal by the Ossett Labour Party, it was decided Ossett would be part of the Wakefield district. There is a very small part of Ossett in Kirklees.
Ossett has changed its parliamentary constituency several times. In 1983, the town transferred from the Dewsbury seat to the Normanton constituency. This was represented by Ed Balls, who was formerly chief economic adviser. The seat has been continually represented by Labour since 1885: longer than any other British constituency.
Since the 2010 election, Ossett has been part of the Wakefield seat, held by Mary Creagh. When Ossett was part of the Dewsbury constituency, the MP was David Ginsburg, one of the Labour M.P.s who defected to the Social Democratic Party. On transferring to the Normanton constituency, the MP for many years was Bill O'Brien until he entered the House of Lords and was succeeded by Ed Balls.
As of 2011, the Ossett ward has three Conservative councillors whereas Horbury & South Ossett has one Labour, one Conservative and one Independent. There is a small area of Ossett (defined within the pre-1974 boundaries) in the Wakefield West ward, but this is mostly a business area with few residents.
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