MP leads debate on proposed boundary changes

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BATTLE’S Conservative MP and the town’s Lib Dem county and district councillor put aside their political differences to lead a debate on proposed changes to constituency boundaries.

Greg Barker and Cllr Kathryn Field organised a public meeting at Claverham Community College in Battle to discuss the Boundary Commission proposals.

Mr Barker explained to the audience why he believed the wards of Battle, Ewhurst and Sedlescombe and the Rother Levels should remain within the Bexhill constituency and not move to the proposed new constituency called The Weald, which would also take in parts of Wealden and Kent.

Amongst the arguments in favour of these wards remaining within the constituency included that hospital and medical services for these wards are linked to Hastings and Bexhill and pupils who attend the secondary school in Battle transfer to Bexhill for sixth form studies.

It was also highlighted that these areas are served by Rother District Council and that Battle is linked with Bexhill and Hastings in the 1066 County for tourism, which is a vital part of the local economy.

Mr Barker expressed his doubts as to whether an MP for the proposed Weald constituency would be able to understand or represent the interests of constituents these areas as comprehensively or thoroughly as he believes he is currently able to. An MP for The Weald would need to work with Kent and East Sussex County Councils, three district or borough councils, namely Wealden, Rother and Tunbridge Wells and multiple different education and health authorities.

Mr Barker said: “Although these changes won’t come into effect until 2015, these stand to have an impact on our area.

“I hope people will take this opportunity to make their views known to the Boundary Commission and join me in putting forward a more sensible proposal.”

The Boundary Commission, an independent public body which reviews all Parliamentary constituency boundaries, is currently asking the public for their views on the initial proposals.

The consultation closes on December 5.