Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Hedge End and Hamble To Get Own MP
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:
Bursledon and Old Netley
Hamble-le-Rice and Butlocks Heath
Hedge End (all three existing wards)
West End South (but not West End North, which is staying in Eastleigh)
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