– Says John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, speaking at a public hearing on boundary changes last week.
This is in response to the Boundary Commission’s proposal to remove Bitterne ward from a Southampton parliamentary constituency.
Mr Denham told the public hearing, held in Portsmouth last Friday:
“I’m proud to be a Saints season ticket holder and I think local people are pleased that I’m a supporter. But at the next election, voters in Bitterne will be part of a constituency which stretches to the outskirts of Portsmouth. So their MP will have Saints fans at one end and Pompey fans at the other. They will have to say they are not interested in football.”
Mr Denham said:
“This was just one example of the nonsense of linking Bitterne and Thornhill with Hamble, Warsash, Titchfield and Parkgate. People want their MP to represent the real community they live in. Southampton voters want to vote for a Southampton MP.”
Mr Denham urged the Boundary Commission to keep Bitterne in Southampton Itchen and let Swaythling voters vote in Southampton Test rather than in a redesigned Eastleigh constituency.
The Boundary Commission’s initial proposals for new constituencies in Hampshire – criticised by local MPs and representatives of all political parties – propose splitting Southampton across 4 constituencies, 3 of which would cover parts of Southampton and part of the surrounding countryside. Southampton’s Labour MPs, John Denham and Alan Whitehead; Romsey and Southampton North Conservative MP Caroline Nokes; and the former local Liberal Democrat MP Sandra Gidley have all criticised the proposals to split up Southampton in this way.
Labour has pledged to take part fully in the consultation and has put forward a fairer alternative that would mean 15 out of Southampton’s 16 wards would be represented by city-only MPs, yet still in keeping to the guidelines set by the Boundary Commission.
- Under the boundary review’s recommendations, Southampton Itchen constituency will comprise of the following wards:
Bargate; Bevois; Bitterne Park; Harefield; Peartree; Sholing; Woolston.
The Labour Party proposes Southampton Itchen retains its existing boundaries, which include Bitterne ward. Bevois ward should be retained in Southampton Test.
- Under the boundary review’s recommendations, Southampton Test constituency will comprise of the following wards:
Bassett; Coxford; Freemantle; Millbrook; Portswood; Redbridge; Shirley; Chillworth, Nursling and Rownhams.
The Labour Party proposes Southampton Test retains its existing boundaries, with the addition of Swaythling ward. This means Bevois ward would be retained in Southampton Test and Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams ward would not be included in a Southampton constituency.
- Bassett ward would be the only ward in Southampton not to be included in a Southampton parliamentary constituency, under the Labour Party’s alternative proposals. If one Southampton ward must be included in a predominantly rural seat, which the arithmetic demands, Bassett is the most suitable.
- All of the Labour Party’s counter-proposals follow the guidelines set by the Boundary Commission. This means all of the proposals fall within the acceptable range of the Electoral Quota (i.e. all constituencies to have an electorate of 72,810 to 80,473), which the original legislation demands.