Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hedge End and Hamble To Get Own MP

Hedge End and Hamble will become a parliamentary constituency for the 2015 general election if the Boundary Commission's initial recommendations survive twelve weeks of public consultation and party political lobbying.

New boundaries are intended to make voting at general elections fairer by equalising the number of voters in each constituency and will reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600.

Changes to neighbouring constituencies to bring them in line with the new one-size-fits-all proposals mean that the existing Eastleigh Constituency extends further to the North (taking in parts of Test Valley) and some of its southern wards join parts of Fareham and Southampton in the new Hedge End and Hamble Borough Constituency

Any organisation of smaller towns and parishes into a larger entity is going to seem arbitrary to some extent, but I can't see the good people of Bitterne in Southampton being particularly happy at being hived off from Southampton Itchen into the new constituency.   Some of us are old enough to remember when Woolston was tagged on to Eastleigh for a couple of general elections and was returned to Southampton as soon as was possible.  It seems the Boundary Commission does not learn from its past mistakes.

Hedge End and Hamble Borough Constituency will comprise:

Bitterne
Botley
Bursledon and Old Netley
Hamble-le-Rice and Butlocks Heath
Hedge End (all three existing wards)
Netley Abbey
West End South (but not West End North, which is staying in Eastleigh)
Locks Heath
Park Gate
Sarisbury
Titchfield Common
Warsash

The political parties will now be poring over past election results in these wards and others affected by the changes to work out whether the proposals are to their advantage or not.

Apart from the anomalies of Bitterne and West End, the linking of Hedge End to Warsash and Sarisbury is no more or less logical than linking it to Bishopstoke and Fair Oak, but the old Eastleigh Constituency had the advantage of including - more or less - the same wards as Eastleigh Borough Council.  Where there is no community or historical tie, and no geographical feature to provide a natural boundary, at least there was a measure of consistency.  That consistency is lost in the new constituency which takes wards from a total of three local councils - Southampton, Eastleigh and Fareham.

Based on recent local election results, it also looks like being a keenly fought Lib Dem / Conservative marginal with the Fareham wards bringing Conservative majorities up against the Lib Dem heartland of Hedge End and Botley.

Photo credit: Tony Moorey

6 comments:

  1. Are you interested standing in the GE as an independent for the new seat Keith?

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  2. Highly unlikely I'd have thought Stephen, although I am flattered that you even consider it a possibility.

    It's going to be hard enough for those with party machines behind them to raise their profiles from Warsash to Thornhill. Just about impossible for an individual with no resources.

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  3. Well, no resources at the moment but I suppose if one declared an early interest who knows what folk might rally round?

    Chances of beating the Party Machines are slim I know, but it's a seat on the hustings with a much needed non-partisan voice.

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  4. Judging by the some of the comments flying around at the last full Council meeting by anti-housing lobbyists, there are those in Hedge End, Boorley and Botley who don't like being part of Eastleigh and will be rejoicing at the news, hoping it will lead to a complete secession and the formation of a separate Borough!
    I also wonder how the 1500 electors of Ampfield and Braishfield feel about now being part of 'Beastley Eastleigh' rather than Romsey?
    Perhaps the same way as Hiltingbury residents feel about leaving Winchester...thats got be worth at least another £20k knocked off the value of the house!

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  5. Interesting thought Stephen. Hedge End was part of Winchester Rural District until 1974, so it's not as if it has "always" been under the control of Eastleigh.

    I would guess that the next local government reorganisation will bring in some kind of unitary arrangement so although it's not inconceivable that a "Hedge End and District" unitary authority could cover a number of parishes between Southampton, Winchester and Fareham, I guess it is more likely that new councils will be based on the larger urban centres.

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  6. Good point Keith, about Woolston and the Boundary Commission not learning from past mistakes.

    I completely agree with you about West End and Bitterne.

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