Radical plans revealed for new constituency

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VOTERS in Battle, Wealden and Kent could find themselves voting for the same MP at the next General Election under controversial plans to create a new Parliamentary constituency.

The Boundary Commission has proposed that the existing Bexhill and Battle constituency is split in two, with Battle and most of rural Rother becoming part of the New Weald constituency. The new constituency would include nine wards from the existing Wealden constituency, including Crowborough, and seven Borough of Tunbridge Wells wards, including Cranbrook.

The Boundary Commission explained: “We considered that the similarity of areas on both sides of the county boundary and the geographical nature of the Weald meantthat this was the most suitable place in which to create a constituency across the county boundary.”

The report added: “We consider that the A21 road that runs through the centre of the constituency provides a good link between its northern and southern parts.”

The Boundary Commission is aiming to reduce the number of constituencies in England from 533 to 502 and make sure that each constituency has a similar number of registered electors.

But Bexhill and Battle’s current MP, Greg Barker, has launched a campaign against the plans to split his constituency in two, saying the plans for the new constituency “makes no sense at all”.

Mr Barker said: “I fully support the drive by the Boundary Commission to even up the number of constituencies to make our system fairer and to reduce the number of MPs.

“However, putting Battle and Rother Levels into a Weald-facing constituency makes no sense at all.

“I would urge all local residents, regardless of Party, to write to or email the Boundary Commission to urge them to keep Battle and Rother Levels in the smaller Bexhill constituency.

“Such is my concern at these proposals, I shall be calling a public meeting in the town to discuss the issues with as many local people as possible.”

Battle’s county and district councillor, Kathryn Field, has said she plans to object to the proposals.

Cllr Field told Tuesday’s Battle Town Council meeting: “They are proposing to put Telham in with Bexhill rather than in Battle, with the rest of the town.”

Rother councillor for Crowhurst, Angharad Davies, added: “I have put in an objection because there is a view there should be a Battle and Bexhill constituency.”

But town council chairman Cllr Ron Harris said: “I personally feel a great affinity with the people of the Weald, rather than with Bexhill.”

The proposed new Bexhill constituency will comprise almost half of the existing Bexhill and Battle constituency and will also include Heathfield, three wards from the existing Wealden constituency, including Hailsham, and two wards from Lewes, including Polegate.

The Boundary Commission proposes the Hastings and Rye constituency remain the same.

The proposals are open to public consultation until December 5 2011 and can be viewed at www.consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk