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Anger over plans to move Alresford into new parliamentary constituency
The Alresfords ward, which includes New Alresford and Old Alresford, Gundleton and Bighton, could be sliced away to join the new North East Hampshire and Alton constituency that stretches as far north as Yateley, Hartley Wintney, Fleet and Hook close to the Berkshire border.
The Winchester constituency would also lose Chandler’s Ford, which joined it in 2010.
The new boundary would be similar to the boundary pre-2010 when it was identical to the Winchester City Council district. Under the new plans, however Wickham and Knowle would not return. The new constituency would have 78,961 voters.
The radical proposal has been put forward by the Boundary Commission for England as part of a national review to cut the number of constituencies from 533 to 502 and balance out the numbers of voters in each MP’s area.
The proposals are out to consultation until December 10. Comments can be left on the Boundaries Commission website.
Ernie Jeffs, city councillor for the Alresfords, said: “A lot of people are going to be upset. It is totally illogical."
Mr Jeffs said: “Alresford is the market town for a number of villages and is closely associated with Winchester. This makes no sense at all to link us with places like Hartley Wintney.”
Under the changes the Meon Valley constituency would disappear and a large chunk of it will return to the Winchester constituency. That would leave MP George Hollingbery, newly promoted as a PPS to Home secretary Theresa May, without a seat.
Mr Hollingbery who lives at Old Alresford would be in the North East Hampshire and Alton constituency. Its current MP James Arbuthnot is standing down at the next General Election.
Whether the Boundary Commission changes are ever approved is however up in the air. The Liberal Democrats have said they will scupper the changes as revenge for the demise of their reform of the House of Lords.
Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, said: “When I first saw this proposal I thought it was some kind of April Fool joke it is so daft. Alresford looks to Winchester and has always been part of Winchester when it comes to electing an MP, let alone the strong historical and family links we share.
“My constituents in the town and surrounding villages will be bemused by this as they share no sense of community with Fleet and Yateley. The proposal suits no-one I can think of and I am aware already of robust representations being made to the boundary commission by local people to stop this silly idea in its tracks.”