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Revised proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries in the South East region

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3. Revised proposals for the South East

3.1 After the consultation on the initial proposals in 2021, we arranged for the appointment of two Assistant Commissioners for the South East – Howard Simmons and Simon Tinkler – to assist us with the analysis of the representations received during the first two consultation periods. This included chairing public hearings held in the region to collect oral evidence, as follows:

    • Crawley: 14–15 March 2022
    • Portsmouth: 17–18 March 2022
    • Reading: 21–22 March 2022
    • Ashford: 24–25 March 2022

3.2 We asked the Assistant Commissioners to consider all the written and oral representations, and to make recommendations to us on whether our initial proposals should be revised, in light of evidence provided in the representations. It is important to stress that the Assistant Commissioners had no involvement in developing – and therefore no vested interest in supporting – our initial proposals. Accordingly, they came to the analysis with an independent mind, open to viable alternative proposals supported by evidence. We are very grateful for the thorough and methodical approach the Assistant Commissioners have taken to their work.

3.3 What follows in this chapter is:

    • a brief recap of our initial proposals;
    • description of the views and counter-proposals put forward during the consultations;
    • the Assistant Commissioners’ analysis of the strength of the arguments for adoption of any of those counter-proposals; and
    • our decision on whether or not to make changes to our proposals in the given area.

3.4 A tabular summary of the revised constituencies we now propose appears in the Appendix to this report.

3.5 Throughout this chapter, where we refer to a respondent’s response, we do so by using the reference number, i.e. BCE-12345 (we only include an individual’s name or organisation if they gave permission for it to be published). This reference number corresponds with the representations that can be found on our consultation website at All representations received in response to the first two consultations are publicly available on this website. The representations received in response to these revised proposals will be published at the end of the review.

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3.6 We initially proposed six sub-regions in the South East, two of which were composed of more than one historic county. These two sub-regions (Berkshire, Hampshire, and Surrey; and Sussex) included proposed constituencies that crossed the boundary between historic counties. The remaining four sub-regions (Buckinghamshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, and Oxfordshire) consisted of just one historic county each (although some constituencies may have crossed a unitary authority boundary).

3.7 All of the qualifying political parties agreed with these sub-regions, but we received a small number of individual representations that proposed alternative sub-regions (none of these disagreed with the proposed Sussex sub-region). Submission BCE-65841 proposed a Berkshire and Hampshire sub-region, but Surrey separated as its own sub-region, arguing that this arrangement would enable more existing constituencies to remain unchanged.

3.8 John Bryant (BCE-72184) proposed a sub-region consisting of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, and a separate sub-region consisting of Hampshire and Surrey. This submission argued that two county-crossing constituencies between Berkshire and Buckinghamshire would enable a better pattern for the areas around the county boundary – such as Beaconsfield and Slough – than the initially proposed Berkshire-Surrey crossing.

3.9 Submission BCE-80456 proposed a Kent and Surrey sub-region, and a Berkshire and Hampshire sub-region, arguing that constituencies in eastern Surrey could better reflect community ties and transport links if the East Surrey constituency crossed into Kent at Edenbridge. It also proposed a constituency that would cross the county boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire to accommodate the changes to Kent and Surrey.

3.10 We previously considered a constituency crossing the county boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire, as in BCE-65841 and BCE-80456, but did not feel that there were sufficient links between the two counties to justify such a constituency. This thinking was reinforced by recommendations from the Assistant Commissioners after a site visit to the area. Additionally, we feel that the consequences of proposing 12 constituencies within a self-contained Surrey sub-region results in a weaker pattern of constituencies overall for the county.

3.11 Although the Assistant Commissioners acknowledged that the pairing of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire (as in John Bryant’s counter-proposal) would enable the retention of the existing Chesham and Amersham constituency unchanged, they do not consider this sufficient to warrant the significant change that would result to the remaining constituencies in the area.

3.12 Our Assistant Commissioners carefully considered these alternative sub-regional configurations. While they acknowledged there were elements of the proposals that had merit for certain constituencies, they were not persuaded that these alternative sub-regions enabled a better pattern of constituencies overall across the relevant areas. They therefore recommended that the six initially proposed sub-regions remain unchanged. We accept that recommendation, noting the general and wide-ranging support received for those sub-regions.

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Berkshire, Hampshire, and Surrey

3.13 The Berkshire, Hampshire, and Surrey sub-region as a whole is mathematically entitled to 38.81 constituencies, and so we initially proposed an allocation of 39 constituencies, an increase of two (reflecting the fact that 16 existing constituencies are over the permitted electorate range). As mentioned above, this large sub-region was well received by all the major political parties, who recognised that treating any of the composite counties individually would result in unnecessary change and restrictive constituency electorate sizes.

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3.14 We received broad support for our initial proposals for Berkshire, with the exception being changes to Reading, which were more contentious. The official response from the Conservative Party (BCE-86588 and BCE-96866) supported the proposals with only minor amendments. The Liberal Democrats (BCE-82881 and BCE-94335) also supported the initial proposals, although reserved judgement on the division of Downlands ward. The Labour Party (BCE-79511 and BCE-95664) disagreed with initial proposals around Reading and submitted a counter-proposal featuring an additional cross-county boundary constituency that would extend into Hampshire. It is helpful to consider Berkshire in two halves: the western side of Berkshire, containing the unitary authorities of Reading, West Berkshire, and Wokingham; and, to the east, Bracknell, Slough, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

3.15 The main issue in western Berkshire was the proposed reconfiguration of Reading and surrounding areas. Although the two existing Reading constituencies can remain unchanged, we proposed reconfiguring both to account for the excessive electorates of surrounding constituencies. The resulting initially proposed pattern featured a Wokingham constituency contained entirely within the Borough of Wokingham, a suburban Earley and Woodley constituency to the south and east of the town of Reading, a Mid Berkshire constituency including both rural West Berkshire wards and more urban wards around Tilehurst, and a more compact Reading constituency entirely within Reading borough.

3.16 Our proposed Mid Berkshire constituency received mixed responses. Some representations argued that the three Reading borough wards included in the constituency are more urban and do not share many similarities with the rural wards of West Berkshire local authority (Graeme Hoskin – BCE-84659). Conversely, representations from the West Berkshire wards were more positive, with respondents highlighting the logic of including these areas in a constituency consisting of ‘similar locations peripheral to the large local conurbation [of Reading]’ (BCE-54299). Responses from within the proposed Reading constituency were primarily concerned with the reconfiguration of the constituencies around Reading.

3.17 The proposed Earley and Woodley constituency also received a mix of representations, although with a greater proportion of comments in support. Respondents noted that the initial proposals would better reflect the integrity of Woodley town than the existing pattern, where it is divided between Reading East and Maidenhead, and that residents in both Earley and Woodley have more in common with each other than with Reading (Alison Swaddle – BCE-84534, and BCE-97723). The proposed reconfigurations to Wokingham were almost universally well received, with respondents noting in particular the improvements for wards close to Wokingham town, including Wokingham Without, Finchampstead North, and Finchampstead South (BCE-90634).

3.18 The Labour Party’s counter-proposal for this area proposed the retention of both existing Reading constituencies largely unchanged, as well as a Mid Berkshire and Tadley constituency crossing over the Hampshire border. It argued that this arrangement would better preserve the existing pattern of constituencies, as well as eliminate an unnecessarily split ward.

3.19 There were other counter-proposals that attempted to preserve two Reading constituencies without crossing into Hampshire, notably from John Bryant (BCE-72184 and BCE-94668) and Dave Sharp (BCE-75672 and BCE-95565). Both of these proposals include configurations of a Mid Berkshire constituency that extend into Wokingham unitary authority.

3.20 The proposed Newbury constituency received relatively few representations compared to others in western Berkshire; most comments advocated for the inclusion of East and West Ilsley within the same constituency as the town of Newbury, arguing that those communities formed essential elements of the local horse-racing industry (BCE-70146). The Conservative Party’s counter-proposal proposed dividing two alternative wards (instead of the initially proposed single divided ward of Downlands) to achieve this: specifically, the division of Ridgeway and Southcote wards to restore local ties across the Berkshire Downs.

3.21 In light of the considerable discussion generated around Mid Berkshire and Reading, and the number of alternatives presented for the area, the Assistant Commissioners visited the area. On the ground, they were unpersuaded that there was any evidence for community ties between villages such as Aldermaston and Stratfield Mortimer and settlements in Hampshire or in the Wokingham local authority, such that they could not recommend proposing a constituency crossing the county boundary here, or between West Berkshire and Wokingham. They were persuaded particularly by the representations received from and in support of the proposed Mid Berkshire constituency, advocating for its separation from the existing Wokingham constituency (BCE-78817), as well as those from the areas surrounding the town of Wokingham arguing in favour of the proposed configuration of Wokingham, which ‘better reflect[s] the natural connections in the area, brings back areas closely adjacent to Wokingham into the Wokingham constituency and closely aligns the boundaries with those of the local authority’ (John Southgate – BCE-63458). The Assistant Commissioners also viewed the ward of Southcote in Reading on their visit and were not persuaded that the perceived benefits of a possible split of this ward were sufficient to justify it.

3.22 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners that the large amount of support for the proposed Earley and Woodley, and Wokingham constituencies, as well as a substantial number of supportive representations from the proposed Mid Berkshire constituency, is convincing evidence in support of the initial proposals. We also agree that the alternative Mid Berkshire and Tadley constituency of the Labour Party counter-proposal, or the Mid Berkshire or Thames Valley constituencies proposed by John Bryant and Dave Sharp, respectively, lack sufficient internal connectivity or community ties to warrant their adoption.

3.23 While we acknowledge that there is some merit in the Conservative Party’s approach of dividing the Ridgeway ward to reunite the Isley villages with Newbury, we are not convinced that the additional division of the Southcote ward required to accommodate this delivers sufficient benefits to justify dividing two wards. We therefore accept the recommendation of the Assistant Commissioners to retain the Earley and Woodley, Mid Berkshire, Newbury, Reading, and Wokingham constituencies as initially proposed.

3.24 There were fewer representations received in relation to eastern Berkshire, and those that were showed a greater degree of support for the initial proposals. The largest issue in this area concerned the proposed Windsor constituency, and specifically its crossing into Surrey at Egham.

3.25 There were a small number of representations received regarding the proposed boundary between Bracknell and Maidenhead. Some of these comments specifically discussed the potential to better reflect a constituency containing all of Bracknell town with the aid of dividing additional wards, while acknowledging that our initial proposals represented the strongest whole-ward solution in the area (BCE-57448 and BCE-90128). The Conservative Party’s counter-proposal proposed two ward splits along these lines, and Bracknell Forest Council advocated for the same two plus a third (BCE-75391). All of these comments were built on the argument that we should take into account new ward boundaries for Bracknell Forest Council even though these were only finalised after 1 December 2020. Other than these points, Bracknell and Maidenhead were both largely well received as initially proposed, with residents of the Whitegrove area supportive of the proposal to include Warfield Harvest Rise in Bracknell.

3.26 The proposed Slough constituency received representations mostly in opposition, with residents noting the division of the Langley community between Slough and Windsor. Conversely, Tan Dhesi, MP for Slough (BCE-86284), and Slough Borough Council (BCE-83170) submitted responses acknowledging the Commission’s initial proposals as the strongest option, noting that wards must be lost to Windsor, and agreeing that Foxborough and Langley Kedermister wards would be the best options to join the Slough ward of Colnbrook with Pyle already included in the existing Windsor constituency.

3.27 Other than discussion of Langley as mentioned above, the proposed Windsor constituency received almost no representations from its Berkshire wards. There was a large (and almost entirely negative) response from the two Egham wards proposed to be included in the constituency to allow us to propose nine constituencies entirely or mostly within Berkshire, which will be discussed in greater detail in the Surrey section below.

3.28 The Assistant Commissioners considered the ward splits proposed by Bracknell Forest Council and the Conservative Party, and appreciated the arguments given around community ties. Ultimately, however, they decided that there was not sufficient reason to split wards in this area, as none of them would substantially alter the ability of either Bracknell or Maidenhead to fall within the permitted electorate range, and in respect of recent ward boundary changes they were only able to take into account ward boundaries that existed or were in prospect before 1 December 2020.

3.29 The Assistant Commissioners acknowledged the unfortunate division of Langley in Slough, but agreed with local respondents who accepted it as the least worst option for the wider area.

3.30 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners that there is insufficient cause to split wards along the boundary between Bracknell and Maidenhead, noting that wards established after the statutory effective date for this review of 1 December 2020 will, of course, be taken into account at the next review. We also agree that the Slough constituency, while imperfect in respect of the split of the Langley community, is the best practicable solution compared to the alternatives.

3.31 We therefore agree with the recommendation of our Assistant Commissioners to retain the Bracknell, Maidenhead, and Slough constituencies as initially proposed. We will discuss the initially proposed Windsor constituency later in the Surrey section below, as the concern expressed in representations related to the proposed inclusion of Egham.

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3.32 We received broad support for the initial proposals in Hampshire. We received very few representations from the eight constituencies that were proposed to remain wholly unchanged in the south of the county, namely: East New Forest, Havant, Gosport, Portsmouth North, Portsmouth South, Southampton Itchen, Southampton Test, and West New Forest. Comments here were generally supportive of the initial proposals, although in the two New Forest constituencies responses indicated a preference for retaining the compass point in the name as a suffix (as in the existing name), notwithstanding the Commission’s naming policy. This preference was expressed unanimously by all the major political parties as well as Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East (BCE-86417). Alan Mak, MP for Havant (BCE-75916) advocated for changing the designation of that constituency from borough constituency to county constituency, to reflect the less accessible and more rural Hayling Island area.

3.33 The Assistant Commissioners agreed with the request to retain the current structure of the names of the New Forest constituencies, noting that the Commission’s policy would support retaining these existing names under the ‘commands greater local support’ exception. They noted the relative lack of population density on much of Hayling Island; however, they were ultimately not persuaded that this was sufficient reason to change the designation of Havant, as it was proposed to remain wholly unchanged and does not, as a whole, seem to contain more than a small rural element.

3.34 The Assistant Commissioners therefore recommended that the composition of all eight of these constituencies remain as initially proposed, and revisions to the names only for the two New Forest constituencies. We agree with our Assistant Commissioners, and therefore propose retaining Havant, Gosport, Portsmouth North, Portsmouth South, Southampton Itchen, and Southampton Test as initially proposed, and propose altering only the names of East New Forest and West New Forest to New Forest East and New Forest West respectively, with the compositions of those constituencies otherwise remaining as initially proposed.

3.35 We received several counter-proposals arguing for alternative arrangements for our proposed Winchester, Fareham and Waterlooville, Eastleigh, and Hedge End constituencies. Although the existing Winchester and Meon Valley constituencies are both within the permitted range, we proposed a reconfiguration in order to bring the number of electors in Eastleigh and Fareham down to within the permitted range. Specifically, we proposed: a Fareham constituency to include wards to the east rather than to the west, to take in Waterlooville; a more compact Eastleigh constituency; a Hedge End constituency consisting of communities based around the River Hamble; and a Winchester constituency extending southwards and falling entirely within the City of Winchester district.

3.36 The Liberal Democrats (BCE-82881) submitted a counter-proposal that would retain a Meon Valley constituency, as well as a Winchester constituency changed only to realign with changes to local government boundaries. The local Conservative Associations for Eastleigh (BCE-72093), Meon Valley (BCE-71209), and Fareham (BCE-86546), in conjunction with their MPs – Paul Holmes (BCE-72059), Flick Drummond (BCE-86565), and Suella Braverman (BCE-97796) respectively, submitted a similar counter-proposal. This would retain a Meon Valley constituency to include part of Fareham town and a divided ward in Chandler’s Ford; Suella Braverman MP proposed including Fareham North West instead of Fareham East in Meon Valley. These counter-proposals would also include Valley Park in the Romsey and Southampton North constituency, and Charlton & the Pentons ward in the North West Hampshire constituency. Other counter-proposals featuring a retention of the Meon Valley constituency included Jonathan Stansby (BCE-61336) and BCE-65841; John Bryant (BCE-72184), Michael Hopkins (BCE-56948), and BCE-59262 all proposed variations of a Mid Hampshire constituency. Many of these counter-proposals retain Eastleigh, Fareham, and Winchester constituencies that bear a resemblance to the existing configuration.

3.37 In the initial proposals, we divided the existing Meon Valley constituency between four constituencies. In the areas transferred to the Winchester and East Hampshire constituencies, our proposals were well received by respondents; those in Rowlands Castle supported the better connection to their local authority area as opposed to ‘the existing Meon Valley constituency that covers a broad physical area that has no real connection’ to Rowlands Castle (BCE-88418). Respondents in Bishop’s Waltham noted the logic of being included in their local authority area of Winchester, while also emphasising that Winchester represents ‘the capital of [the] area’ for residents in the Central Meon and Upper Meon wards and Bishop’s Waltham (BCE-71173). Other comments highlighted shortcomings of the existing Meon Valley constituency, ‘a bizarre amalgam of areas with no coherent similarity’ (Neil Findlay – BCE-89266), and supported reconfigurations to allow the Winchester constituency to fall entirely within the City of Winchester local authority, including the inclusion of Chandler’s Ford and Hiltingbury wards in the proposed Eastleigh constituency (BCE-66370).

3.38 We proposed transferring the town of Waterlooville and the Winchester district wards of Denmead, and Southwick & Wickham from the existing Meon Valley into a Fareham and Waterlooville constituency. The response we received from these areas was mostly negative, although we note that the small number of representations we received from Waterlooville emphasised the ties between the town and Havant rather than the Meon Valley (BCE-55288). The Assistant Commissioners agreed that Waterlooville is clearly strongly linked to Havant; however, they noted that including the town in the Havant constituency would necessitate dividing Havant itself. Similarly, while the village of Cowplain is divided by our proposed boundary, Waterlooville cannot be included in East Hampshire without considerable disruption to the surrounding constituencies. Respondents from Denmead, and Southwick & Wickham wards emphasised the rural nature of these areas, and links to the Meon Valley and Winchester (Peter Banks – BCE-70871). Elsewhere in the proposed Fareham and Waterlooville constituency, we received further representations in opposition to our proposals, particularly concerning the perceived lack of connection between the eponymous towns (BCE-85173). Those within Fareham expressed a preference for a Fareham constituency resembling the existing configuration (BCE-74437).

3.39 The proposed Hedge End constituency received a mix of representations, with those in opposition worried that it would not account for the individual nature of its component communities (BCE-56766), and those in support noting that the similarities between these communities is greater than their connections to nearby larger towns (BCE-59201). The largest proportion of responses, however, were principally concerned with the name of the constituency: the majority of these responses argued that the constituency would be better reflected by the name Hamble Valley, as many residents ‘never go near Hedge End but associate with the river Hamble and related bridges/crossing points’ (BCE-59319).

3.40 There was a relatively small number of representations received from those areas in Eastleigh district currently in the existing Winchester constituency, with some support for the initial proposals that would transfer those wards to an Eastleigh constituency (BCE-86557). That proposed Eastleigh constituency received relatively few responses, other than a small number of representations from Valley Park ward expressing a preference to remain in a constituency focused around Test Valley (BCE-80701).

3.41 Fareham Borough Council (BCE-75308) and Eastleigh Borough Council (BCE-75658) both produced counter-proposals to facilitate minimal change for their respective constituencies, but with resulting knock-on effects and greater change for adjacent constituencies, respectively pairing Hedge End with Waterlooville, and Alton with Meon Valley.

3.42 The Assistant Commissioners considered the counter-proposals in this area, but were not persuaded that any alternatives presented a better overall pattern of constituencies in this part of central and southern Hampshire. They noted in particular the responses from the proposed Winchester constituency, which overwhelmingly supported the initial proposals, including from areas currently included in Winchester (Alresford Chamber of Commerce – BCE-74181, Southdown Residents Association – BCE-69310). The Assistant Commissioners felt that the Liberal Democrats’ counter-proposal would include areas very close to the centre of Winchester in a Meon Valley constituency, and that the areas of Eastleigh borough included in their Meon Valley configuration did not appear sufficiently well-connected to the rest of the constituency. They also felt that the Eastleigh Conservative Association counter-proposal, as well as the similar submission from Suella Braverman MP, would divide the town of Fareham unnecessarily and would require a ward split that they did not feel would be justified when considering the statutory factors. While acknowledging that some of the counter-proposals would involve less change overall to the existing constituencies than the initial proposals, the Assistant Commissioners concluded that the initial proposals took better account of local ties and overall reflected the best balance of all the statutory factors. They therefore recommended retention of these four constituencies as initially proposed, other than revision of the name of the proposed Hedge End constituency to be named instead Hamble Valley.

3.43 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners that none of the counter-proposals would provide sufficient benefit to warrant alterations to the proposed Winchester constituency, which received significant support. Although several of the counterproposals received were plausible alternatives to the initial proposals, the representations we received failed to persuasively demonstrate that revisions to our initial proposals would be welcomed, as they were not widely commented on during consultation, and the majority of those comments that were received were in support of our initial proposals. We therefore propose retaining the boundaries of the Eastleigh, Fareham and Waterlooville, Hedge End, and Winchester constituencies as initially proposed, but agree to revise the name of the proposed Hedge End constituency to Hamble Valley, as a more accurate and inclusive name that has local support.

3.44 Elsewhere in Hampshire, we proposed minor changes to the Romsey and Southampton North, North West Hampshire, Basingstoke, and North East Hampshire constituencies. We additionally proposed changes to the configuration of East Hampshire, transferring some eastern wards to the Farnham and Bordon constituency, which crosses between Hampshire and Surrey, and extending the existing constituency southwards to include the remaining wards of East Hampshire district.

3.45 The Conservative Party (BCE-86588) proposed a series of related changes to a number of wards and the division of an additional ward, affecting the North East Hampshire, North West Hampshire, Romsey and Southampton North, Eastleigh, and Hedge End constituencies. This counter-proposal would return Valley Park to Romsey and Southampton North, and Charlton & the Pentons to North West Hampshire, as well as dividing Tadley & Pamber ward to align the proposed boundary to match the existing constituency boundary between North East Hampshire and North West Hampshire.

3.46 The Liberal Democrats proposed a series of minor changes to the Romsey and Southampton North, North West Hampshire, North East Hampshire, and Basingstoke constituencies. This element of their counter-proposal would return Valley Park to Romsey and Southampton North, and both Bellinger ward and Charlton & the Pentons ward to North West Hampshire, as well as include both Sherborne St. John & Rooksdown ward and Bramley ward in Basingstoke, and transfer Chineham to North East Hampshire.

3.47 The comments received regarding the proposed Romsey and Southampton North constituency were largely negative, with the vast majority coming from the Bassett and Swaythling wards of Southampton. These expressed a strong dissatisfaction with the proposals, arguing that there is a difference in character between the northern Southampton wards and the rural Test Valley wards that would make up the majority of the constituency. There were also a small number of responses, including both the Conservative Party and Kit Malthouse, MP for North West Hampshire (BCE-86558 and BCE-97696), opposing the inclusion of the Charlton & the Pentons ward in Romsey and Southampton North, arguing that it is better connected to North West Hampshire.

3.48 Within the proposed North West Hampshire constituency, there were very few comments received, other than from residents of the Rooksdown community of Basingstoke. Due to changes in local government boundaries in Basingstoke and Deane district, Rooksdown now falls under the largely rural Sherborne St John & Rooksdown ward, and as such we proposed it be included in North West Hampshire rather than Basingstoke. Michael Berwick-Gooding (BCE-81191) proposed dividing this ward such that its urban polling districts would be included in Basingstoke, and the northern polling districts of Oakley & The Candovers ward be included in North West Hampshire.

3.49 Within the proposed Basingstoke constituency, there were again relatively few comments. We received representations in support of the initial proposals from residents of Oakley and the surrounding villages that we had proposed be included in Basingstoke. Some of these representations acknowledged the difficulties of Basingstoke and Deane’s large ward sizes, and supported the principle of splitting the Oakley & The Candovers ward to include areas of new development there – and in the neighbouring Winklebury & Manydown ward – in the Basingstoke constituency (BCE-82226).

3.50 The proposed North East Hampshire constituency received a small number of representations opposed to the division of the town of Yateley. We proposed that Yateley West be included in North East Hampshire and that Yateley East be included in Aldershot due to changes in local government boundaries and the difficulties of accommodating the combined electorate of both wards within either constituency. One counter-proposal (Paul Simpson – BCE-65448) put forward an alternative configuration with three county-crossing constituencies, including Farnborough and Blackwater Valley, to accommodate an undivided Yateley. BCE-62657 proposed including Crookham East ward and Crookham West and Ewshot ward in Aldershot to allow Yateley to remain undivided in North East Hampshire. Submissions BCE-65841 and BCE-80456, which would cross the boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire, as well as the Labour Party’s counter-proposal, all proposed including both Yateley wards in a reconfigured North East Hampshire constituency. John Bryant (BCE-72184) acknowledged the difficulties in this area, noting that ‘there seems to be no way of uniting the Yateley wards without very serious disruption elsewhere’.

3.51 The proposed East Hampshire, and Farnham and Bordon constituencies generated the largest number of representations received in Hampshire. Our initial proposals recommended an East Hampshire constituency made up exclusively of wards from East Hampshire district, excluding only those wards included in the county-crossing constituency of Farnham and Bordon. Additionally, we proposed that Whitehill Chase and Whitehill Pinewood wards (along with Lindford ward) be included in Farnham and Bordon, while Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward be included in East Hampshire.

3.52 Many of the responses in this area indicated a general dissatisfaction with the principle of a constituency crossing the county boundary between Hampshire and Surrey (Headley Parish Council – BCE-73708). There were also a large number of comments received regarding the boundary between the two constituencies, specifically opposed to the division of the contiguous communities of Whitehill and Bordon. These comments indicated that Whitehill and Bordon actually constitute ‘one united town’ that should not be divided between parliamentary constituencies (Whitehill Town Council – BCE-65886). This sentiment was shared by Damian Hinds, MP for East Hampshire (BCE-76248 and BCE-97802).

3.53 The Liberal Democrats addressed this issue in the same counter-proposal referenced above; transferring the whole Oakley & The Candovers ward (which was split between Basingstoke and North East Hampshire in the initial proposals) into East Hampshire, thereby allowing the Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward to be transferred to Farnham and Bordon. John Bryant (BCE-97692) and Jonathan Stansby (BCE-88301) both supported this proposal in their respective representations during the second consultation period. Michael Hopkins (BCE-56948) proposed a Farnham and Alton constituency as an alternative county-crossing option, in order to achieve an undivided Whitehill and Bordon community within East Hampshire.

3.54 The Assistant Commissioners noted the advantages of the Conservative Party’s and Liberal Democrats’ counter-proposals, in particular the retention of Charlton & the Pentons in North West Hampshire and Valley Park no longer being an orphan ward. In the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal, however, they ultimately felt that the split ward in the north of the county, (which they felt was not consistent with the Commission’s policy on splitting wards), as well as an Eastleigh constituency with poor internal connectivity, did not constitute an improvement on the initial proposals with regard to the statutory factors, and therefore did not recommend adopting the scheme. Regarding the Liberal Democrats’ counter-proposal, they were not persuaded by the inclusion of the rural Bramley ward in Basingstoke, or the inclusion of the built-up Chineham ward in North East Hampshire. They considered Michael Hopkins’ counterproposal, but did not feel that there were sufficient links between Farnham and Alton to warrant recommending it.

3.55 The Assistant Commissioners acknowledged that Yateley is divided in the initial proposals but were not persuaded by any of the counter-proposals that rectified this, noting (as previously) the lack of sufficient links to justify a constituency crossing between Berkshire and Hampshire. They additionally considered that there was insufficient evidence to justify adopting an alternative crossing between Hampshire and Surrey in this area, and that the BCE-62657 counter-proposal would divide the contiguous settlements of Fleet and Church Crookham.

3.56 The Assistant Commissioners were persuaded that ties between Bordon and Whitehill were broken by the initial proposals. The Liberal Democrats’ proposal to transfer Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward into the county-crossing Farnham and Bordon constituency by adding the whole Oakley & The Candovers ward to East Hampshire was carefully considered. Assistant Commissioners noted, however, that the inclusion of Oakley in the Basingstoke constituency had been well received, and that there is little evidence of any ties between Oakley and the East Hampshire constituency. As a consequence, acknowledging the logic of the Liberal Democrats’ counter-proposal in the east, but wishing to retain well-received elements of the initial proposals in the west, the Assistant Commissioners recommended retaining the division of Oakley & The Candovers, but transferring the Candovers part of the ward (south of the M3) from North East Hampshire to East Hampshire. This would enable the transfer of Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward to Farnham and Bordon.

3.57 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners that the disadvantages of the Conservative Party’s and Liberal Democrats’ counter-proposals are significant enough to discourage the adoption of either proposal in full. We also agree that there is merit in the inclusion of the southern part of the Oakley & The Candovers ward with East Hampshire, such that Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward can be included in Farnham and Bordon.

3.58 We therefore propose that Aldershot, Basingstoke, North West Hampshire, and Romsey and Southampton North are retained as initially proposed. We propose transferring that part of the Oakley & The Candovers ward initially proposed in the North East Hampshire constituency to the East Hampshire constituency, and transferring Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward from East Hampshire to Farnham and Bordon.

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3.59 Across Surrey, we received a range of responses. The most significant issue in the county was our proposal to transfer the South Park & Woodhatch ward out of the Reigate constituency, which generated more than 700 representations in opposition. We initially proposed that the ward be included in Dorking and Horley constituency, such that the latter could be brought within the permitted electorate range. Local residents such as Frederick Harrison (BCE-77469) submitted representations describing how South Park & Woodhatch ward ‘is an integral part of the town of Reigate’ that ‘would be perceived as a totally anomalous outcrop’ if included in Dorking and Horley as proposed.

3.60 Our changes to the existing Epsom and Ewell constituency were well-received, with representations stating that the borough of Epsom and Ewell has better connections to Ashtead and Leatherhead, as initially proposed, rather than Nork and Tattenhams, as in the existing constituency (BCE-70521). Supportive representations also noted that our proposed Epsom and Ewell constituency would contain wards from only two local authorities, one fewer than the existing constituency (Epsom & Ewell Conservative Association – BCE-69136).

3.61 The remaining constituencies along Surrey’s southern boundary – Dorking and Horley, East Surrey, and Godalming and Ash – as well as the Surrey wards of the county-crossing Farnham and Bordon constituency, received relatively few representations. In Dorking and Horley a small number of responses said that there are limited natural connections between the two eponymous towns (BCE-59890). Some local residents of Hooley, Merstham & Netherne ward expressed dissatisfaction with the initial proposals, in which the ward was included in the East Surrey constituency. The proposed Godalming and Ash constituency prompted a greater degree of opposition, with respondents emphasising the distinctive nature of its two major towns and the lack of links between them (Hambledon Parish Council – BCE-81514). The Conservative Party and the Labour Party both accepted the initial proposals for these constituencies in full.

3.62 We received several counter-proposals that reconfigured the Reigate constituency, such that South Park & Woodhatch ward could be included in the constituency, such as those from the Liberal Democrats (BCE-82881) and the Green Party (BCE-83090), which take a similar approach. Both counterproposals would limit the knock-on impact of the solution to the three local authorities of Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley, and Reigate and Banstead. Both submissions proposed including the Lower Kingswood, Tadworth & Walton ward in Dorking and Horley, resulting in a Reigate constituency including all three Horley wards at the south of Reigate and Banstead local authority and extending north of the M25 motorway at Chipstead, Kingswood & Woodmansterne ward. The Liberal Democrats also proposed changes to other constituencies in Surrey: their counter-proposal would transfer the three Ash wards to Guildford from Godalming, which in turn would include wards in the north of Guildford Borough; Surrey Heath would extend further east into Runnymede Borough, and Runnymede and Weybridge consequently would adopt a more narrow configuration.

3.63 Additional counter-proposals were received from John Bryant (BCE-72184) and Jonathan Stansby (BCE-61336). These two alternatives would minimise the degree of change to individual constituencies by transferring single wards across a ‘ripple’ of constituencies, stretching into Hampshire.

3.64 Other counter-proposals included representation BCE-65841, which proposed a self-contained Surrey, putting forward Dorking and Cranleigh, and Leatherhead and Esher constituencies to alleviate the Reigate issue. Representation BCE-59262 proposed a Reigate and Caterham constituency in this area, as well as an East Surrey constituency stretching into the Mole Valley local authority.

3.65 Representation BCE-80456 would address the Reigate issue by extending East Surrey further to the east and crossing into Kent at Edenbridge, allowing Reigate to additionally include Hooley, Merstham & Netherne ward; this counter-proposal would not include any other crossings for Surrey and as such includes reconfigurations around the county, including Banstead and Dorking, Esher and Surrey Hills, and Walton and Weybridge constituencies.

3.66 The Assistant Commissioners were persuaded that South Park & Woodhatch ward constituted an integral area of the town of Reigate. They considered all the counter-proposals described above, but concluded that each of these represented too great a change to otherwise well-received or relatively uncontentious constituencies, principally Epsom and Ewell, and Dorking and Horley. As such they decided to endorse the counter-proposal of John Bryant and Jonathan Stansby, which would make smaller adjustments to a wider range of constituencies stretching into Hampshire, thereby also enabling the solution proposed for the Bordon and Whitehill issue. Specifically, this revision would: return South Park & Woodhatch ward to Reigate (from Dorking and Horley); transfer Ewhurst ward from Godalming and Ash to Dorking and Horley; transfer Elstead and Thursley ward from Farnham and Bordon to Godalming and Ash; then – as described in the Hampshire section above – transfer Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward from East Hampshire to Farnham and Bordon, and transfer the southern polling districts of Oakley & The Candovers ward to East Hampshire. This series of changes offers a solution to two aspects of the initial proposals that generated significant opposition: the division of South Park & Woodhatch ward from Reigate, and the separation of Whitehill Hogmoor & Greatham ward from the rest of Bordon and Whitehill, while causing minimal disruption elsewhere. The view of the Assistant Commissioners is that, while including the Ewhurst ward in Dorking and Horley creates an orphan ward, the character of this ward is in keeping with the rest of the proposed constituency. While few commented on this in the consultation, the Assistant Commissioners were of the view that their recommendation to include Elstead and Thursley ward and the Candover villages in the Godalming and Ash, and East Hampshire constituencies respectively would be an improvement on the initial proposals with regard to local ties.

3.67 After considering all the options put forward, we agree with the Assistant Commissioners that the counter-proposal of John Bryant and Jonathan Stansby for this area, as described above, represents the best solution to two major issues identified with our initial proposals. We consider that alternative counterproposals in this area of Surrey do not adhere as strongly to the statutory factors. We therefore propose a series of minor revisions to the initially proposed Reigate, Dorking and Horley, Godalming and Ash, and Farnham and Bordon constituencies, as recommended by our Assistant Commissioners and described in detail above. We also agree with the recommendation that East Surrey, and Epsom and Ewell constituencies be retained as initially proposed.

3.68 We received relatively few representations from the proposed constituencies of Guildford, Surrey Heath, Woking, and Spelthorne. In respect of Guildford we received nearly unanimous support for the initial proposals, which would reconfigure the constituency to fall entirely within the Borough of Guildford. We received a small number of responses in opposition to the inclusion of Normandy and Pirbright wards in Surrey Heath; respondents from these wards expressed a preference to be included in a Guildford constituency. Our proposals for a Woking constituency coterminous with its local authority area were well-received. Similarly, our proposed Spelthorne constituency, which would be wholly unchanged and also coterminous with its local authority area, attracted very few responses.

3.69 Counter-proposals that covered these constituencies included the stand-alone Surrey sub-region of BCE-65841, which proposed South West Surrey and Surrey Heath constituencies bearing a resemblance to their existing configurations. It additionally put forward a different Guildford constituency, and a Dorking and Cranleigh constituency (including two Horley wards) as mentioned above. John Bryant proposed transferring Normandy and Pirbright wards to Godalming and subsequently a North West Surrey constituency that would include two wards from Runnymede local authority. Michael Hopkins proposed a Godalming, Haslemere, and Cranleigh constituency, as well as a Surrey Heath constituency that would include the two northernmost Ash wards.

3.70 Reflecting the largely positive response regarding these constituencies, the Assistant Commissioners recommended that they be retained as initially proposed. They noted some dissatisfaction from Normandy and Pirbright wards, but considered that counter-proposals that addressed these concerns resulted in disruptive knock-on effects to otherwise well-received areas. On the basis of the evidence presented by the Assistant Commissioners, we are satisfied that the initial proposals for these constituencies offer the best balance of the statutory factors, and we therefore propose that the Guildford, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, and Woking constituencies be retained as initially proposed.

3.71 We received a number of representations in opposition to the initial proposals from the two Egham wards, which were initially proposed to be included in the Windsor constituency. Many of these responses disagreed with the principle of a constituency straddling the county boundary. Separately to the boundary concerns, we received several comments arguing for the retention of the name Runnymede and Weybridge, as opposed to the Commission’s initially proposed name of Weybridge and Chertsey; local respondents such as the Runnymede Magna Carta Legacy (BCE-77389) and Dr Ben Spencer, MP for Runnymede and Weybridge (BCE-84228), advocated for the importance of the Runnymede name.

3.72 An alternative county crossing at Englefield Green and Virginia Water was separately proposed by Jonathan Stansby (BCE-61336) and Peter Whitehead (BCE-78356); this counter-proposal would transfer the three wards of Englefield Green East, Englefield Green West, and Virginia Water, to the Windsor constituency and return the Egham Hythe and Egham Town wards to Weybridge and Chertsey. Some local residents acknowledged the merits of such an arrangement, noting that ‘[Englefield Green and Virginia Water] are areas that look to Windsor and Ascot for entertainment and commerce, and are more similar in character to Windsor and Ascot’ (Andrew Fielding – BCE-56049).

3.73 The Assistant Commissioners conducted a site visit to assess this alternative, and were persuaded that a constituency pairing Windsor with Englefield Green and Virginia Water would have a more consistent character than the initially proposed Windsor constituency. They additionally noted the strength of local feeling regarding the Runnymede and Weybridge constituency name. The Assistant Commissioners therefore recommended that the Windsor constituency should include Englefield Green East, Englefield Green West, and Virginia Water, and that the proposed Weybridge and Chertsey constituency both retain the wards of Egham Hythe and Egham Town, and retain its existing name of ‘Runnymede and Weybridge’. We agree with their recommendations and therefore propose these revisions.

3.74 There was a significant discussion concerning the two wards of Cobham & Downside and Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon in Elmbridge. Both wards fall within the existing Esher and Walton constituency, which is above the permitted electorate range. In order to bring the constituency within range, we initially proposed including Cobham & Downside ward in Weybridge and Chertsey, retaining Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon in Esher and Walton. Residents of both wards opposed this, arguing that the Cobham and Stoke D’Abernon area is a continuous settlement (BCE-95568, and Councillor Dave Lewis – BCE-97867). Some of these representations, including the official response of the Conservative Party and that of Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton (BCE-71095), proposed reuniting the two wards within the Esher and Walton constituency by removing the Hersham Village ward instead. The latter submission additionally mentioned the possibility of splitting Esher ward, as one of its component polling districts falls on the western side of the River Mole (next to Hersham Village ward); however, this split is not required to bring either constituency within the permitted electorate range. A large number of representations were, however, received from across the area that disagreed with the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal to transfer Hersham Village ward out, asserting that the Hersham settlement represents an integral part of the Esher and Walton community (BCE-93352). Others responses said that the Cobham, Downside, Stoke D’Abernon and Oxshott communities should be reunited in a different constituency if it were not possible to do so within Esher and Walton. Mike Wheeler (BCE-97858), speaking on behalf of a local residents association, emphasised the necessity to ‘retain the link between Cobham and Oxshott, whether as part of the existing constituency or by transferring the two to one of the adjacent constituencies’.

3.75 In light of the considerable discussion generated around the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal, and the number of responses concerning these Elmbridge wards, the Assistant Commissioners visited the area. Their assessment was that the connections of Hersham Village ward with Esher and Walton were too strong to be broken in order to make room for both Cobham & Downside and Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon. Specifically, they considered the railway line between Hersham Village ward and Walton South ward did not represent a significant barrier between the two communities, and neither did the River Mole between Hersham Village ward and Esher ward. They observed that these three communities represented one continuous area, and therefore did not endorse the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal.

3.76 Nonetheless, the Assistant Commissioners accepted that the initial proposals broke local ties between Cobham & Downside and Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon wards. They therefore recommended a revision that would bring both wards into Runnymede and Weybridge rather than Esher and Walton. In order to accommodate the addition of Cobham & Downside ward and Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon ward to Runnymede and Weybridge, they recommended bringing the Oatlands & Burwood Park ward into Esher and Walton. Although this specific orientation was not proposed by any representations, the Assistant Commissioners were of the view that it best maintained the local ties in both the Hersham and Cobham/Stoke D’Abernon/Oxshott areas. The Assistant Commissioners noted that the Burwood Park estate already falls within the boundaries of the existing Esher and Walton, and that Oatlands is linked with Walton for its county council representation. They further noted the representation of Dr Ben Spencer MP, made at the Reading hearing (BCE-97046), which suggested that the ties of Oatlands and Burwood Park are to Hersham, rather than to Cobham and Downside.

3.77 In considering the Assistant Commissioners’ recommended revisions for Esher and Walton, and Weybridge and Chertsey, we acknowledge that there may be more limited connections of the Cobham & Downside and Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon ward pair with Weybridge than with Esher, but feel that the communities of those wards represent a semi-independent settlement area, and note there are some links between these areas and Weybridge, including the ‘Chatterbus’ local transport service mentioned in some representations. In contrast, we consider that Hersham Village ward is part of a contiguous community with the neighbouring wards of Esher and Walton South. Accordingly we agree with the recommendations of the Assistant Commissioners in this area and therefore propose a revised Esher and Walton constituency to include the Oatlands & Burwood Park ward and the renamed Runnymede and Weybridge constituency to include together the Cobham & Downside, and Oxshott & Stoke D’Abernon wards.

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3.78 Only one constituency in Buckinghamshire, Chesham and Amersham, has an electorate within the permitted electorate range, with the other six constituencies all exceeding it: this is reflected in the allocation of eight constituencies to the sub-region, an increase of one.

3.79 Our initial proposals report highlighted that the Buckinghamshire ‘wards’ (technically electoral divisions) used for this Review are temporary arrangements, and that their size and shape make proposing sensible constituencies difficult without splitting them. Our initial proposals split a single ward – Chiltern Ridges – between the Princes Risborough, and Chesham and Amersham constituencies. In formulating their recommendations, our Assistant Commissioners took the view that, given the special circumstances in Buckinghamshire, it would be appropriate to consider a greater number of ward splits, where supported by strong evidence. We accept that this is appropriate in the particular circumstances here, while noting that splitting of wards should still only be proposed in exceptional circumstances where there is strong justification.

3.80 In the Milton Keynes area, as the electorates of both existing constituencies were too large, our initial proposals paired the areas of Bletchley and Tattenhoe with wards in the north of the Buckinghamshire unitary authority, including the town of Buckingham. A constituency that crosses the boundary between the Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire unitary authorities is necessary if we are to respect the regional boundaries, as the Milton Keynes local authority itself cannot be allocated a whole number of constituencies.

3.81 We received several counter-proposals for Milton Keynes, including from John Bryant (BCE-72184), who proposed a Buckingham constituency that would cross into western wards of Milton Keynes, as well as Milton Keynes North and Milton Keynes South constituencies each containing part of the city centre. BCE-56945 proposed a similar crossing between Buckingham and Milton Keynes West, as well as a Milton Keynes North East and a Milton Keynes South. BCE-60252 proposed smaller changes to the initially proposed constituencies, with only two ward swaps.

3.82 There was some opposition to the proposed Buckingham and Bletchley constituency, although the majority of these comments disagreed with the general principle of any seat crossing between Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes unitary authorities. Those that recognised the need to do so broadly supported the pairing of Buckingham with Bletchley. The composition of the proposed Milton Keynes and Newport Pagnell seats was mostly well received, although by far the most significant issue locally was the names of the proposed constituencies. Representations from the area expressed a desire to retain the existing Milton Keynes North constituency name, as opposed to the initially proposed Newport Pagnell, as ‘historic towns such as Stony Stratford and Olney, as well as the many villages, are … upset about the change of name as … residents do not consider themselves as being in Newport Pagnell’ (BCE-53144). Some of these comments consequently argued for reverting the proposed Milton Keynes constituency name to Milton Keynes South. This preference to retain Milton Keynes in the name of both constituencies was expressed by both Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South (BCE-79202), and Ben Everitt, MP for Milton Keynes North (BCE-83516).

3.83 The Assistant Commissioners noted the general level of support for the composition of initially proposed constituencies in the Milton Keynes area. They were not persuaded that any of the proposed alternatives for Milton Keynes could be justified on the evidence received, particularly where these would involve crossing into Buckinghamshire at a different and less intuitive place. They also noted the strong local sentiment for retaining the existing constituency names for the two constituencies wholly contained within Milton Keynes unitary authority and therefore recommended reverting to the names Milton Keynes North and Milton Keynes South for those two constituencies. We agree with the recommendations of the Assistant Commissioners, and propose to retain the boundaries of the three constituencies as initially proposed, using the names of Buckingham and Bletchley, Milton Keynes North, and Milton Keynes South.

3.84 The proposed Aylesbury constituency received relatively few representations, but those we did receive were generally supportive of the new configuration to include Ivinghoe and Wing wards, as ‘the new areas coming into the seat look to Aylesbury for shopping with well-connected transport links via the A418 and the Lower Icknield Way’ (BCE-66957). The Assistant Commissioners therefore recommended retaining the Aylesbury constituency as initially proposed, and we agree.

3.85 There was general dissatisfaction with the proposed Princes Risborough constituency. In particular, residents at the extremities of this constituency expressed that their ties are to other areas; this included those in the Chiltern Ridges ward looking to Chesham and Amersham (Andrew Murray – BCE-80752), those in Grendon Underwood ward looking to Buckingham (Edward Field – BCE-57765), and those in the Berryfields estate of Stone and Waddesdon ward looking to Aylesbury (BCE-55447). There was also some support from the constituency, especially from its geographically central wards, including Ridgeway West (BCE-64973) and The Risboroughs (Gary Hall – BCE-61730).

3.86 Within Chesham and Amersham, residents in Beaconsfield ward expressed concern over the division of their town between two constituencies (David Vick – BCE-65098). There were also a small number of representations received in opposition to the inclusion of Hazlemere ward in the constituency (BCE-91668). The proposed Marlow and South Buckinghamshire constituency also generated comments from residents about the unusual extent of Gerrards Cross ward, which includes a part of Beaconsfield town.

3.87 In the proposed High Wycombe constituency there were a number of opposition representations from residents of Marlow Bottom (in the Chiltern Villages ward), separated from the nearby town of Marlow by an existing constituency boundary, which we retained in the initial proposals (BCE-54708).

3.88 We received several proposals around central and southern Buckinghamshire, including from the Liberal Democrats (BCE-82881) who proposed including the entirety of the Chiltern Ridges ward in Chesham and Amersham, and transferring the Hazlemere ward into a renamed West Buckinghamshire constituency. The Conservative Party (BCE-86588) proposed a different transfer, where Tylers Green and Loudwater ward would be included in Chesham and Amersham, while Hazlemere would be included in a renamed Wycombe constituency. Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe (BCE-70336), additionally advocated for this counter-proposal, as well as for the retention of the existing name of Wycombe for the constituency. The Labour Party supported the initial proposals throughout the county.

3.89 We also received a counter-proposal from Beaconsfield Town Council (BCE-93375 and BCE-97735), which proposed dividing the Gerrards Cross ward, which contains the historic ‘old town’ of Beaconsfield in polling district SB, so that the town as a whole would be contained in the same constituency, with the remainder of the ward included in the Chesham and Amersham constituency. BCE-56945 (updated as BCE-88612 in the second consultation) proposed two alternatives for Buckinghamshire. Both would require two ward splits: the first option would split the Gerrards Cross and Chiltern Villages wards, in order to facilitate reuniting the town of Beaconsfield; the second option would split the West Wycombe and Flackwell Heath wards to facilitate an unchanged Chesham and Amersham constituency, with Princes Risborough extending further south to include Chiltern Villages ward. BCE-59262 recommended a three-ward rotation in the south of the county, including Marlow ward with Wycombe, Tylers Green and Loudwater ward with Chesham and Amersham, and Beaconsfield ward with South Buckinghamshire (renamed Beaconsfield).

3.90 Despite the concerns received in relation to the proposed Princes Risborough constituency, the Assistant Commissioners concluded that the composition as initially proposed remains the best option for a constituency in the centre of the county, and felt that numerical and geographic constraints make such a constituency unavoidable. They did not feel that changes to the southern boundaries of the constituency would better reflect the statutory factors; these being the proposed extensions into Hazlemere, Chiltern Villages, or West Wycombe described in counter-proposals above, and therefore recommended retaining the initially proposed composition for the Princes Risborough constituency. The Assistant Commissioners noted that representations stated that the name Princes Risborough would not adequately reflect the geographical extent of this constituency, many specifically referencing a lack of connection to the town of Princes Risborough. They did not, however, recommend a specific alternative, having felt that the evidence received indicated no clear preference. We accept the recommendation to retain the composition of the initially proposed Princes Risborough constituency, but noting the concerns about the name, propose instead that it should be called Mid Buckinghamshire.

3.91 The Assistant Commissioners considered the Conservative Party’s counterproposal, to transfer the Hazlemere, and Tylers Green and Loudwater wards between Chesham and Amersham, and High Wycombe. Having visited the area, their view is that while Hazlemere shares a greater affinity to Wycombe than Chesham, there was far greater separation than is the case for Loudwater, which appears to form an integral part of High Wycombe town, such that removing the ward would divide the town; they therefore recommended retaining the initially proposed boundaries for High Wycombe. They were, however, persuaded that the name of High Wycombe is not reflective of the whole constituency, and as such recommend that the existing constituency name of Wycombe be retained.

3.92 The Assistant Commissioners were persuaded by evidence that Beaconsfield town was divided in the initial proposals. They considered that the splitting of Buckinghamshire’s unusually large wards would be justified in this instance, as it was in the similar case of Chesham in the initial proposals. They recommended splitting the Gerrards Cross ward, to include Gerrards Cross itself in a proposed Chesham and Amersham constituency, and both the Beaconsfield ward and the part of Beaconsfield town within the Gerrards Cross ward in a proposed Marlow and South Buckinghamshire constituency. This follows the proposal of Beaconsfield Town Council, but the Assistant Commissioners also recommend an additional polling district – SFH, covering the village of Hedgerley – should be included in Marlow and South Buckinghamshire. The Assistant Commissioners felt that Hedgerley is a community separated from Gerrards Cross by the clear barrier of the M40, with links to the South Buckinghamshire area, as opposed to Chesham or Amersham. As this revision would return Beaconsfield to the Marlow and South Buckinghamshire constituency, the Assistant Commissioners additionally recommend that the existing constituency name of Beaconsfield should be retained.

3.93 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners’ recommendations, and therefore propose revisions to what would be Beaconsfield, Chesham and Amersham, and Wycombe constituencies, as described above.

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East Sussex and West Sussex

3.94 There are currently 16 constituencies in this sub-region, ten of which have electorates above the permitted range, and one (Brighton Kemptown) has an electorate below the range. The initial proposals accordingly recommended that East and West Sussex be combined into a single sub-region with 17 constituencies, with a single constituency crossing the county boundary between the two (East Grinstead and Uckfield).

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East Sussex

3.95 As mentioned above, East Grinstead and Uckfield was proposed as the single constituency to cross a ceremonial county boundary in this sub-region. There was some dissatisfaction with the general principle of constituencies containing parts of two counties, as was the case in Berkshire, Hampshire, and Surrey. The most controversial element of this particular proposed constituency, however, was the inclusion of wards north of Lewes that are all within both the Lewes local authority area and existing Lewes constituency, specifically: Chailey, Barcombe and Hamsey; Ditchling and Westmeston; Newick; Plumpton, Streat, East Chiltington & St. John; and Wivelsfield. Respondents said that some of these villages, particularly those closer to Lewes – such as Barcombe and Plumpton – are ‘intrinsically linked to Lewes’ and expressed a desire to remain in a constituency with the town (Justine Minns – BCE-93689).

3.96 The Liberal Democrats (BCE-82881) submitted a counter-proposal for the three constituencies of East Grinstead and Uckfield, Hailsham and Crowborough, and Lewes. They proposed returning these wards in the north of Lewes district to a Lewes constituency by including more of the eastern part of the proposed constituency in a reconfigured Hailsham and Uckfield constituency; with an East Grinstead and Crowborough constituency acting as the county-crossing constituency in this configuration. Several parish councils near Lewes (East Chiltington Parish Council – BCE-68711, Hamsey Parish Council – BCE-87054) supported this counter-proposal, but it was opposed in the secondary consultation from residents impacted by its changes in other areas, particularly in the Polegate and Willingdon community, which would be divided under the Liberal Democrats’ proposal (Douglas Murray – BCE-89569).

3.97 Jonathan Stansby (BCE-61336) proposed an alternative county-crossing constituency of Lewes and Burgess Hill, which would additionally include two wards of the Horsham local authority. This would result in a Mid Sussex constituency composed of the northern wards of the Mid Sussex local authority (as opposed to the southern wards) and a Seaford and Hailsham constituency. BCE-59262 proposed a High Weald constituency that would stretch from Withyham to Rye along the East Sussex/Kent border; it would also pair Hastings and Battle, and Bexhill and Hailsham. Oliver Raven (BCE-85388) proposed a Lewes constituency that would include Haywards Heath, as well as a Hailsham and Newhaven constituency, and a crossing between West Sussex and the Brighton and Hove unitary authority, rather than between West and East Sussex.

3.98 The Assistant Commissioners considered that the principle of the initially proposed East Grinstead and Uckfield represented the best cross-county boundary constituency, despite the dissatisfaction expressed in representations received from villages north of Lewes. Having visited the area, the Assistant Commissioners felt that, although the villages in the northern area of Lewes local authority are clearly tied to Lewes, it would not be unreasonable for them to be represented in the same constituency as Uckfield, as in the initial proposals. Additionally, they considered a boundary between the wards of Polegate South & Willingdon Watermill ward and Lower Willingdon ward – as in the Liberal Democrats’ proposal – to be unsatisfactory, as it would clearly split the Willingdon community.

3.99 The initially proposed Eastbourne constituency was well received within Eastbourne itself, as it was made coterminous with its local authority (David Barclay – BCE-86771). There was some dissatisfaction from Lower Willingdon and Upper Willingdon wards, which would be removed from the constituency, but those residents who recognised that some change was necessary in order to bring the constituency within the permitted electorate range supported pairing Willingdon with Polegate in the proposed Lewes constituency (Willingdon & Jevington Parish Council – BCE-83066).

3.100 There were relatively few representations received in the constituencies of Bexhill and Battle, and Hastings and Rye, although the majority were supportive of the minor changes to both in the initial proposals. There was a campaign in the proposed Hailsham and Crowborough constituency, coordinated by Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden (BCE-65370), and supported by the Conservative Party (BCE-86588), which was generally supportive of the initial proposals, but with two changes: the transfer of the Hartfield ward from East Grinstead and Uckfield to Hailsham and Crowborough, and a change of name from Hailsham and Crowborough to Sussex Weald.

3.101 The Assistant Commissioners noted the general support received for Bexhill and Battle, Eastbourne, and Hastings and Rye, especially the transfer of Heathfield from Bexhill and Battle to Hailsham and Crowborough, and therefore recommended that they be retained as initially proposed. Having visited the area on a site visit, they accepted the arguments presented by Nusrat Ghani MP and the Conservative Party, and therefore recommended transferring the Hartfield ward to Hailsham and Crowborough to reunite it with Withyham (a change which can be accommodated without any knock-on impact). They also endorsed changing the name of the constituency to Sussex Weald, as an appropriate description of the geographic area that had strong local support. Following on from their considerations above, they recommended no changes for Lewes, and no changes other than the transfer of Hartfield ward for the proposed East Grinstead and Uckfield. We accept all of these recommendations.

3.102 There was no proposed change to the external boundaries of the three constituencies largely consisting of the Brighton and Hove unitary authority, which was well-received (Brighton and Hove Green Party BCE-84760). Only two wards were transferred between Brighton Pavilion and Brighton Kemptown, with Queen’s Park ward being included in Pavilion, and Hanover and Elm Grove ward included in Kemptown. There was opposition to this transfer from both wards, with residents advocating for any alternative that was more similar to the existing pattern. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown (BCE-79075 and BCE-97779), submitted a counter-proposal arguing for a division of the Hanover and Elm Grove ward. This proposal received support from residents of both constituencies, as well as the local Green and Labour parties; it additionally proposed altering the name of the eastern constituency to Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven in recognition of the boundary extending outside of the Brighton and Hove area. The proposed Hove and Brighton West constituency was unchanged from the existing boundaries, but with a different name; this was strongly opposed by local residents, who expressed their preference for Hove and Portslade, as mentioned by Peter Kyle, MP for the current constituency (BCE-56706).

3.103 The Assistant Commissioners were persuaded by the counter-proposal of Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP. Having visited the area on a site visit, they observed that the centre of Kemptown extends into Queen’s Park ward. Additionally, they considered that splitting Hanover and Elm Grove ward facilitates greater adherence to the statutory factors: it results in far fewer electors changing constituency, it better reflects the distinctive geographic factors in the area, and it better aligns with local community ties. They recommended returning the Queen’s Park ward to the Brighton Kemptown constituency, and dividing the Hanover and Elm Grove ward between the constituencies of Brighton Pavilion and Brighton Kemptown. Although they recognised the logic of the argument presented regarding the name of the latter constituency, the Assistant Commissioners did not feel that sufficient evidence has so far been received as to why the name of this constituency, fundamentally unchanged from the existing constituency under their recommendations, should be renamed. They therefore recommended retaining the existing name of Brighton Kemptown. They did, however, recommend changing the proposed name of Hove and Brighton West to Hove and Portslade, given the clear balance of local opinion on this subject.

3.104 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners’ recommendations in Brighton, and therefore propose adopting the counter proposal of Lloyd Russell-Moyle, that two polling districts (PHEA and PHEF) of Hanover and Elm Grove ward are included in Brighton Kemptown constituency and the remainder of the ward is included in Brighton Pavilion. On their site visit, the Assistant Commissioners noted that the Queen’s Park Road represented a ridge line between two distinct communities within the Hanover and Elm Grove ward. Although the polling district boundaries we have used to divide this ward do generally follow the ridge line, we are aware that a small number of residential roads to the west of Queen’s Park Road, between Elm Grove and Pankhurst Avenue, are proposed in the Brighton Kemptown constituency. We would invite representations from residents of these streets as to whether aligning our proposed boundary to the Queen’s Park Road would better reflect community ties. We also invite representations on the name of the Brighton Kemptown constituency, specifically as to whether including a reference to Peacehaven would better represent the constituency. We are content that sufficiently persuasive evidence has been provided for us to support revising the name of Hove and Brighton West to Hove and Portslade.

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West Sussex

3.105 Of the existing constituencies within West Sussex, three are within the permitted electorate range and five have electorates over the maximum. The existing Crawley constituency is coterminous with its local authority area, and our initial proposals to retain it unchanged were well received (Crawley Borough Council – BCE-70489).

3.106 Our initial proposals included the wards currently in the Horsham constituency from the Mid Sussex local authority in the East Grinstead and Uckfield constituency, and this attracted a small number of positive responses (BCE-52273). We additionally received supportive comments from within the proposed Horsham constituency, including from Jeremy Quin, MP for Horsham (BCE-81523), which emphasised that this constituency would then be wholly contained within the Horsham local authority.

3.107 The reception to the proposed Mid Sussex constituency was mixed, but with more positive than negative representations received. The proposal to expand the existing constituency south to incorporate Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint was broadly well received, with respondents saying that the proposals were an improvement on the existing pattern (where these areas form the extremity of the extensive Arundel and South Downs constituency), reflecting instead the predominant north-south community links such as shopping and schooling built on the spine of the London – Brighton rail line and A23 (Robert Eggleston – BCE-88483). To the north, the response was more negative, with respondents from the rural wards of High Weald, and Ardingly and Balcombe arguing that their ties are to Haywards Heath, and thus they should be included with Mid Sussex rather than East Grinstead and Uckfield (BCE-67845). A counter-proposal was received from Mims Davies, MP for Mid Sussex (BCE-83229), which would include these rural wards in a Mid Sussex constituency, and instead transfer the more built-up Hassocks ward east into East Grinstead and Uckfield. This counter proposal was supported by the Conservative Party and by West Sussex County Council (BCE-73152), but was opposed by some locals, including councillors, who felt it did not represent as strong a configuration as the initial proposals (Nigel Dennis – BCE-79778).

3.108 In the view of the Assistant Commissioners the proposed Crawley constituency is highly compliant with the statutory factors, and they therefore recommended this constituency be retained as initially proposed. Similarly, the Assistant Commissioners noted strong support for the proposed Horsham constituency and recommended retaining the initial proposals for this constituency as well. The Assistant Commissioners considered the counter-proposal of Mims Davies MP. They acknowledged the responses concerning ties of the High Weald, and Ardingly and Balcombe wards with Haywards Heath, but were more persuaded by the evidence of stronger north-south community ties between Burgess Hill and Hassocks, and felt it would not better reflect the statutory factors to transfer the latter east to East Grinstead and Uckfield. They also noted that the Ardingly and Balcombe ward is not part of the existing Mid Sussex constituency. As such, the Assistant Commissioners recommended retaining the initial proposals for this constituency. We agree with the Assistant Commissioners and therefore propose retaining the constituencies of Crawley, Horsham, and Mid Sussex as initially proposed.

3.109 The remaining five constituencies in West Sussex collectively attracted more than 1,300 representations. The initial proposals in this area departed significantly from the existing pattern, in particular by dividing the existing Arundel and South Downs constituency between six proposed constituencies. The resulting pairing of rural South Downs villages and coastal conurbations in the Arundel and Littlehampton, and Shoreham constituencies was strongly opposed, with hundreds of representations received in objection, particularly from the three wards of Storrington & Washington; West Chiltington, Thakeham & Ashington; and Pulborough, Coldwaltham & Amberley. These wards, which consist of South Downs villages, represented the north western extremity of the proposed Shoreham constituency. Opposition was largely focused on local dissatisfaction with a constituency in which more than half of its electors would be from the built-up coastal strip; residents highlighted the very different concerns of these areas and expressed a desire to retain a rural constituency consisting ‘predominantly of small villages and larger towns set within the countryside’ (Storrington & Sullington Parish Council – BCE-64810).

3.110 Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs (BCE-85406), submitted a counter-proposal that was supported by the Conservative Party and proposed minor change from the initial proposals: adding the Pulborough, Coldwaltham & Amberley, and Storrington & Washington wards to the Arundel and Littlehampton constituency; Cokeham, Peverel, and Offington wards to the Shoreham constituency; and the Salvington ward to the Worthing constituency. In the accompanying text, the representation urged the Commission to ‘preserve one rural constituency in West Sussex’, utilising ‘a small number of split wards’ if necessary.

3.111 Many of the representations received from this area, and particularly from the three wards mentioned above, expressly endorsed the representation of Andrew Griffith; however, the reasoning in individual responses often articulated the desire to retain a constituency centred on the South Downs, indicating that ‘there’s an incoherence in trying to merge a sort of north-south constituency which goes from the current boundaries down to the south coast’ (Richard Hopkins – BCE-97863). This would require a more dramatic reworking of our proposals than the counter-proposal put forward by Andrew Griffith MP, which would maintain the separation between West Chiltington and its ‘immediately adjacent neighbours of Pulborough and Storrington’ (BCE-96492) by retaining two constituencies stretching from the coastal strip inland into rural South Downs areas.

3.112 There was additional opposition to the initial proposals from the coastal parts of the Shoreham constituency, relating to the different characters of its proposed constituent wards as above (BCE-52190), as well as the breaking of ties between Lancing (Cokeham ward and Peverel ward) and Sompting, both of which are within Adur District (Sompting Parish Council – BCE-66358).

3.113 There was a small amount of support for the proposed Worthing constituency, with most of Worthing borough in a single constituency that ‘reflects the town and community much better than the current arrangements’, but many respondents felt that the inclusion of Adur district wards in the Worthing constituency was to the detriment of the Worthing borough wards (Offington and Salvington) that were proposed to be included in the Arundel and Littlehampton constituency (BCE-84570). Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West (BCE-72065), and Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham (BCE-75608), both expressed their dissatisfaction with the initial proposals and a preference for the counter-proposal of Andrew Griffith MP.

3.114 We initially proposed including North Mundham and Tangmere, Selsey South, and Siddlesham with Selsey North wards in a Bognor Regis constituency. Representations received in response to this proposed constituency were mostly focused on these three wards (which are in the Chichester district), mainly arguing that this proposal would break local ties on the Manhood Peninsula, a geographic area on the West Sussex coast between Chichester, Selsey and Pagham. These included a number of comments from local representatives of the respective wards, including Councillor Andrew Brown on behalf of Selsey Town Council (BCE-97799) and Councillor Carol Purnell on behalf of the Manhood Peninsula Partnership (BCE-97868), as well as from other areas on the Manhood Peninsula proposed to be retained in a Chichester constituency (West Wittering Parish Council – BCE-68879).

3.115 In the proposed Chichester constituency we received a number of representations from the areas that were proposed to be transferred from the existing Arundel and South Downs constituency; the majority of these responses expressed a preference for remaining in a rural constituency oriented towards the South Downs, stating that ‘people here do not identify with Chichester (our proposed constituency); they identify with the weald and downland countryside’ (BCE-69888). One local councillor (BCE-86476) proposed ‘putting the parishes [of Chichester] bordering Surrey in with Arundel & Southdowns’, noting that the existing configuration features an unsatisfactory ‘boundary like an arch over the north part of the Arundel & Southdowns constituency’.

3.116 Other than the Conservative proposal outlined above, we received several other counter-proposals covering these constituencies. Chichester District Council (BCE-71425) proposed expanding the Arundel and Littlehampton constituency further north, and Bognor Regis east to take part of Littlehampton, allowing Chichester to take the wards on the Manhood Peninsula. Oliver Raven (BCE-85388) proposed retaining the split of the Manhood Peninsula, but put forward a close approximation of the existing Arundel and South Downs constituency, as well as wholly coastal Worthing West and Worthing East constituencies.

3.117 We additionally received counter-proposals seeking to both reunite the Manhood Peninsula and create a successor constituency to the existing Arundel and South Downs. The Green Party’s counter-proposal (BCE-83090 and BCE-97803) addressed this, but did not make a recommendation for which constituency the Chichester district wards of Loxwood and Fernhurst should be included in.

3.118 Councillor Alan Butcher (BCE-68887, BCE-96417) proposed significant changes to the initial proposals across West Sussex. This submission proposed a reconfiguration of constituencies so that some would be more aligned along the coast, and others would be more rural in character. It would create: a more compact Chichester constituency, uniting the Manhood Peninsula and including Pagham and the two Aldwick wards of Arun district; and a Bognor Regis and Littlehampton constituency similar to the existing arrangement, but including the wards of Rustington East and Rustington West. Additionally, this counterproposal would create an Arundel and South Downs constituency that would extend further west into the Chichester local authority. It would create the same Worthing constituency as the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal (the entire Worthing borough except the Offington ward), as well as a Shoreham constituency that would consist of the entire Adur local authority as well as the Offington, Angmering & Findon, Ferring, and East Preston wards. This Shoreham constituency, which would wrap around Worthing in a horseshoe shape, has historical precedent in the constituency that existed between 1983 and 1997. Finally, the Bramber, Upper Beeding & Woodmancote ward would be transferred to the Mid Sussex constituency in order to reduce the electorate of Arundel and South Downs to within the permitted range.

3.119 Jonathan Stansby (BCE-61336) proposed exactly the same Bognor Regis and Littlehampton constituency as Cllr Butcher, and a Chichester constituency changed only by the loss of the Lavant ward to Arundel and South Downs; the easternmost Horsham district wards would be included in a county-crossing constituency stretching to Lewes as described above. This counter-proposal was the only one received that proposed retaining the existing East Worthing and Shoreham constituency wholly unchanged, with the existing Worthing West constituency losing only the two Rustington wards and gaining the Angmering & Findon ward.

3.120 Cllr Butcher’s proposal was endorsed by Littlehampton Town Council (BCE-96810) and Arundel Town Council (BCE-97871), but was opposed by Councillor Sean Gunner, Leader of Arun District Council (BCE-90912), who argued that the submission’s proposed constituencies would have weak local ties, and would unnecessarily split the Arun District between four constituencies.

3.121 The Assistant Commissioners considered the many responses across West Sussex. They noted, as the Commission did when initially proposing constituencies in this area, that to propose six constituencies across the Adur, Arun, Chichester, Horsham, and Worthing districts, the average electorate needs to be 76,577, very close to the top of the permitted range, and that this severely constrains the possibilities in this part of the county. Their view, however, was that it is possible to achieve significant improvements on the initial proposals despite these difficulties, with the specific aim of resolving both the division of the Manhood Peninsula and the fragmentation of the existing Arundel and South Downs constituency.

3.122 Although the Assistant Commissioners felt the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal constituted an improvement on the initial proposals, they also felt that it would not solve either of the fundamental problems highlighted by the hundreds of representations received (for example the West Chiltington, Thakeham and Ashington ward would remain in a Shoreham constituency aligned to the coast), and as such they did not endorse it.

3.123 The Assistant Commissioners determined that the counter-proposals of Chichester District Council and Oliver Raven also failed to address major issues in the county. They felt that the former would divide the town of Littlehampton between two constituencies in an unsatisfactory way, and that the latter would further isolate Selsey on the Manhood Peninsula by reincorporating the North Mundham & Tangmere ward into the Chichester constituency (thereby removing any road links between the peninsula and Bognor Regis). The Green Party’s counter-proposal appeared to be incomplete, as noted above. As such, these counter-proposals were also not recommended to us.

3.124 The Assistant Commissioners noted the similarities and strengths of the counterproposals of Councillor Alan Butcher and Jonathan Stansby. Although they acknowledged the historical precedent for a compact Worthing constituency and a horseshoe shaped Shoreham constituency including Angmering & Findon, Ferring, and East Preston wards, the view of the Assistant Commissioners was that the ties of these latter areas are to Worthing. They noted that Jonathan Stansby’s solution would retain an additional constituency (East Worthing and Shoreham) completely unchanged, and felt that his proposed Worthing West constituency would represent a clear successor to the existing constituency, losing only the two Rustington wards and gaining the Angmering & Findon ward. On a site visit to the area, however, the Assistant Commissioners noted a stronger affiliation and similar character between the Rustington wards and the Littlehampton wards than between Rustington and East Preston, which consists primarily of private residential settlements.

3.125 Although they noted some support for a single Worthing constituency containing as much of the borough as possible, as well as comments asserting that Angmering & Findon would ideally be included in an Arundel and South Downs constituency, the Assistant Commissioners were overall persuaded that the Jonathan Stansby counter-proposal for two Worthing constituencies would be the solution most compliant with the statutory factors, given the mathematical restrictions in West Sussex. This would enable a pattern of constituencies across the centre and west of the county that would better reflect the statutory factors and address the sentiment of responses we received. The Assistant Commissioners recommended that the two constituencies should retain the existing constituency names of East Worthing and Shoreham and Worthing West, given that they would not change sufficiently from the existing configuration to justify a name change.

3.126 The Assistant Commissioners noted that the Conservative Party, in its second consultation response (BCE-96866), objected to the inclusion of the Aldwick wards in a Chichester constituency (as proposed by Cllr Alan Butcher and Jonathan Stansby). They proposed instead that dividing the Felpham East ward and including the hamlet of Flansham (polling district BHOE) in Arundel and South Downs would allow a reconfigured Bognor Regis and Littlehampton constituency to include both Aldwick wards and the Bersted and Pagham wards to be included in Chichester. On a site visit to the area, the Assistant Commissioners observed that the A259 forms a clear boundary between Flansham and the rest of the Felpham East ward, and that the character of Flansham more closely resembled rural South Downs villages to the north than the built-up area to the south. Additionally, they felt that the connections between Bersted and Pagham, and Chichester were sufficient, along the A259 and B2166 (Pagham Road) respectively. As such, the Assistant Commissioners recommended adopting this element of Cllr Alan Butcher’s and Jonathan Stansby’s counter-proposal, subject to the modifications detailed above.

3.127 The Assistant Commissioners were persuaded that Lavant is well connected to the centre of Chichester and recommended that it be included in the constituency, as in the counter-proposal of Cllr Butcher. They also assessed that including the Bersted ward rather than the two Aldwick wards from Bognor Regis would reduce the electorate of the Chichester constituency sufficiently that it could also include the Westbourne ward. The Assistant Commissioners noted the considerable number of representations from wards proposed to be excluded from Arundel and South Downs in the counter-proposal of Cllr Alan Butcher and Jonathan Stansby, which emphasised a preference for remaining in such a constituency (BCE-86184 and BCE-93888); both counter-proposals additionally include areas very close to central Chichester in the Arundel and South Downs constituency. They therefore recommended a solution that would split the Goodwood ward, to include the polling districts covering West Dean (GWWD) and Westhampnett (GWWH) in Chichester, enabling both it and Arundel and South Downs to remain within the permitted electorate range.

3.128 The Assistant Commissioners acknowledged that, even with their proposed amendments, this proposal would divide the Arun district between four constituencies; however, they felt that this proposal represented a significant improvement on the initial proposals with regard to minimising disruption to the existing constituencies, retaining an additional constituency retained wholly unchanged, and a general reversion to the existing broad distinction between rural and coastal constituencies in the county. The Assistant Commissioners felt that their recommendations appropriately addressed most of the concerns raised in relation to the initially proposed constituencies in the south and west of the county.

3.129 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners’ recommendations in West Sussex and therefore propose a series of revisions to the initial proposals as described above. In summary, we propose: an East Worthing and Shoreham constituency unchanged from the existing configuration; a West Worthing constituency including Angmering and Findon; a Bognor Regis and Littlehampton constituency including Rustington East and Rustington West; a Chichester constituency including Bersted and Pagham; and an Arundel and South Downs constituency resembling the existing configuration, but extending further west to include rural wards of the Chichester local authority.

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Isle of Wight

3.130 As per our statutory framework, the Isle of Wight is specifically allocated two whole constituencies. In the initial proposals, we took the River Medina as a geographic boundary between two distinct areas of the island and subsequently proposed an East Isle of Wight and West Isle of Wight that used the river as its major division. Additionally, while the legislation exempts the Isle of Wight constituencies from the normal restrictions on electorates, we considered that any proposal should seek to roughly balance the electorate size of the two constituencies. We did not receive many counter-proposals that proposed deviating from this principle, and there was no evidence of a significant strength of feeling that we should do so.

3.131 Following the consultation stages, there was broad support for our general approach to divide the island on an east/west basis. There was a strong and collective response, however, that the detail of the initially proposed boundary was not optimal. Political parties (both local and national), local councillors, residents, and community organisations were largely agreed on this point. The vast majority of respondents favoured an approach for the Isle of Wight where the three wards of East Cowes, Fairlee and Whippingham, and Osborne would transfer into the western constituency, and the three wards of Newchurch, Havenstreet & Ashey, Ventnor & St Lawrence, and Wroxall, Lowtherville & Bonchurch transfer into the eastern constituency. This alternative was proposed by a large number of respondents (and supported by many others) including, but not limited to: Steven Backhouse (BCE-53841); Cllr Geoff Brodie (BCE-58087); Cllr Bob Blezzard on behalf of the Sandown Independents (BCE-66508); Cllr Daryll Pitcher on behalf of the Vectis Party (BCE-76154); David Pugh on behalf of Isle of Wight Conservative Association (BCE-82637); the Liberal Democrats (BCE-82881); the Conservative Party (BCE-86588); and Matthew Ambrosini on behalf of Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council (BCE-96022).

3.132 Bob Seely, MP for Isle of Wight (BCE-91560), proposed a slight alteration to the above proposal, retaining the Ventnor and St Lawrence ward in the western constituency; however, some disagreed with this proposal, noting that ‘[Ventnor] has strong associations with the Eastern towns of Shanklin, Sandown and Ryde, as a chain of coastal holiday resorts with similar developmental histories’ and that ‘there is sadly no direct link now with Niton and the towns to the West since the permanent closure of Undercliff Drive’ (Leigh Geddes – BCE-89645). The Labour Party (BCE-79511) proposed a different approach based on a north/ south division of the island, drawing upon the former Medina and South Wight district councils. This proposal attracted notably less local support, and received significant challenge during the second consultation. There were additional alternatives, such as BCE-56040, that proposed a division between coastal and inland constituencies.

3.133 In addition to the boundary changes detailed above, there was also widespread dissatisfaction with the names of East Isle of Wight and West Isle of Wight. There were some supporters of shortening these names to Wight (i.e. without the Isle of prefix) as well as some entirely alternative names such as Vectis, but almost all those who commented on the names of the constituencies simply expressed a preference for the compass point indicators to be suffixes, i.e. Isle of Wight East and Isle of Wight West.

3.134 As a matter of general principle, the Assistant Commissioners agreed that it would be in keeping with the spirit of the legislation to aim to propose two constituencies with broadly similar electorates, despite this not being a statutory requirement.

3.135 The Assistant Commissioners noted that the west-east division of the Isle of Wight in the initial proposals was near-unanimously well received, and that the north-south configuration proposed by the Labour Party drew significant opposition. They therefore recommended that this orientation of the two constituencies be retained; however, they felt that the initial proposals could be improved upon in detail, in light of the responses received. They noted the wide-ranging support for the counter-proposal outlined above, which was backed by the majority of responses from local residents, as well as most of the qualifying political parties and local parties. They considered that it would better reflect community ties between East and West Cowes on either side of the Medina and that it would avoid dividing the town of Newport (as would be the case under the initial proposals). Additionally, this alternative would result in two constituencies with more balanced electorates than was initially proposed. The Assistant Commissioners therefore recommended adopting this counter-proposal, and that the names of the two constituencies should be Isle of Wight East and Isle of Wight West. We agree with the Assistant Commissioners’ recommendations and therefore propose changes to the renamed Isle of Wight East and Isle of Wight West constituencies as detailed above.

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3.136 There are currently 17 constituencies in this sub-region, 10 of which have electorates that are within the permitted range (the other seven are all too large). Of these, we proposed two constituencies (Gillingham and Rainham, and Gravesham) wholly unchanged in the initial proposals, and a further two where the composition was changed only to realign with changes to ward boundaries (Canterbury, and Dover and Deal).

3.137 We initially proposed Kent as its own sub-region, with 18 constituencies. Only one representation (BCE-80456) proposed an alternative sub-region configuration involving Kent, pairing it with Surrey. The Assistant Commissioners considered this proposal, but concluded that the existing sub-regions best reflected the statutory factors, and as such recommended retaining a self-contained Kent sub-region. We agree with their recommendation.

3.138 Compared to elsewhere in the region, Kent attracted relatively few representations. The Labour Party (BCE-79511) and Green Party (BCE-83090) both accepted the initial proposals for Kent in full. A small number of counter-proposals were received covering substantial parts of Kent. The Conservative Party (BCE-86588) proposed minor change to three areas of the sub-region: to retain the Darenth ward and part of the Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone & Hawley ward in Dartford; two possible alternative Faversham and Mid Kent configurations that would enable the retention of an unchanged Tunbridge Wells constituency; and swapping the Dover wards of Sandwich, and Little Stour and Ashstone for the Thanet wards of Margate Central and Dane Valley, to restore the existing north-south configuration of Thanet. The Liberal Democrats (BCE-82881) proposed minor changes to the Ashford, and Rochester and Strood constituencies, and a substantial reconfiguration to the Chatham and Aylesford, Maidstone and Malling, Faversham and Mid Kent, and Weald of Kent constituencies. This counter-proposal aimed to resolve the divisions of both Chatham and Aylesford, and create a compact urban constituency centred on Maidstone.

3.139 Other counter-proposals included: BCE-59262, John Bryant (BCE-94668), Peter Whitehead (BCE-81068), and Oliver Raven (BCE-85388). The first of these proposed changes to Chatham and Aylesford, Maidstone and Malling, Faversham and Mid Kent, and Weald of Kent. The latter three would pair Tunbridge Wells with Edenbridge, allowing Tonbridge to retain its existing pairing with Malling. They also proposed a compact Maidstone constituency similar to that of the Liberal Democrat counter-proposal, while Peter Whitehead and Oliver Raven proposed a north-south configuration of the two Thanet constituencies (in the former case, both constituencies would be unchanged from the existing configuration except to realign to new local government boundaries). The major difference between these counter-proposals was in their handling of the Ashford, Faversham and Mid Kent, and Weald of Kent constituencies. Oliver Raven proposed only minor changes to the proposed Ashford constituency, whereby it would include the Kingsnorth Village and Bridgefield, and Saxon Shore wards, and lose the Wye with Hinxhill ward, with the rural area to the west of Ashford transferred to Faversham and Mid Kent. Peter Whitehead instead proposed expanding Faversham and Mid Kent eastwards to take in Whitstable from Canterbury, which could then include wards to the south, in turn the Ashford constituency would include more of the rural surrounding wards. John Bryant proposed extending a South Kent constituency further west in the Tunbridge Wells local authority, with a Faversham constituency that would contain parts of Ashford, Maidstone, and Swale districts.

3.140 Support for the unchanged Gravesham, and Gillingham and Rainham constituencies was significant, with the latter attracting a petition with more than 150 signatures in favour of the initial proposals (BCE-60161). Similarly, the fundamentally unchanged Dover and Deal constituency was well received, with several respondents commenting positively on the decision to add Deal to the name, including Natalie Elphicke, MP for the existing constituency (BCE-74114). We additionally proposed minor changes to Sittingbourne and Sheppey, and these too were well received (BCE-53086). We received no counter-proposals that put forward substantial changes to these four constituencies.

3.141 The Assistant Commissioners noted the large degree of support for these constituencies and recommended retaining them as initially proposed. We agree and therefore propose no change to the Dover and Deal, Gillingham and Rainham, Gravesham, and Sittingbourne and Sheppey constituencies as initially proposed.

3.142 Canterbury was well received by those within the proposed constituency itself, but there was some opposition from Sturry ward, proposed to be included in West Thanet, where residents emphasised their community ties to Canterbury. Representations from elsewhere in West Thanet were also largely negative, particularly regarding the local ties within the constituency. Respondents variously said that they felt better connected to Canterbury (BCE-92185), Margate (BCE-83657), or Dover (BCE-82618). A smaller number of representations supported the constituency (BCE-75786), while others objected to the name, stating that an alternative name, such as Herne Bay and Sandwich, would better reflect the largest communities in the constituency (BCE-54792). The East Thanet constituency was much more positively received, particularly the decision to bring together Margate and Cliftonville, which are divided by the existing constituency boundary (BCE-80127). Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet (BCE-86547), and Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet (BCE-86457), submitted representations opposing the initial proposals and in support of the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal that attempted to maintain something more like the existing North and South Thanet constituencies.

3.143 The Assistant Commissioners considered the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal, to exchange the Sandwich and Little Stour wards for the Margate Central and Dane Valley wards. They felt that, while this configuration would result in less disruption to the existing constituencies than the initial proposals, it would divide Margate in an unacceptable way.

3.144 The Assistant Commissioners noted that the counter-proposal of Oliver Raven to transfer the ward of Seasalter to Faversham and Mid Kent, thus allowing Sturry to remain in the Canterbury constituency, would be compatible with the changes to Faversham and Mid Kent outlined below. This counter-proposal would enable additional options for the two Thanet constituencies, including one that leaves both of the existing constituencies changed only to align to local government boundaries. The Assistant Commissioners felt that this option merited consideration; however, given the lack of local comment on this counter-proposal, their view is that there is insufficient evidence that this would be an improvement on the initial proposals. They therefore did not recommend either of these counter-proposals to the Commission, and instead recommended retaining the Canterbury and East Thanet constituencies as initially proposed. While recommending that the composition of the West Thanet constituency be retained as proposed, they were persuaded that the name could be improved upon and therefore recommended changing the name of this constituency to Herne Bay and Sandwich.

3.145 We agree with the Assistant Commissioners, and therefore propose retaining the boundaries of all three constituencies as initially proposed, but changing the name of one constituency, resulting in Canterbury, East Thanet, and Herne Bay and Sandwich constituencies.

3.146 There was a relatively small number of representations received regarding the proposed Dartford, Sevenoaks, and Tonbridge constituencies, mostly in opposition. Residents of the two Dartford borough wards proposed to be included in Sevenoaks (Darenth, and Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone & Hawley) expressed a preference to remain in the Dartford constituency, facilitated by a divided ward if necessary (Darenth Parish Council – BCE-74832 and BCE-91912). The decision to include the Sevenoaks district wards of Hartley and Hodsoll Street, and Ash and New Ash Green in the Tonbridge constituency was also opposed, including by Laura Trott, MP for Sevenoaks (BCE-86114).

3.147 The Assistant Commissioners recognised that, given that the Dartford borough is bordered on two sides by the regional boundary and on a third by the Gravesham constituency, the only practicable option is for Sevenoaks to take any wards that are not included in the constituency. They noted that it is only necessary to remove a single ward from the Dartford borough to bring the constituency within the permitted electorate range, and felt that the strong road connections between the Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone & Hawley ward and the Sevenoaks constituency made it a better option than any alternative. They therefore considered whether the Darenth ward should be retained in the Dartford constituency; however, they noted that there were only a small number of comments from this ward, and that the strongest ties of Darenth would likely be with the neighbouring communities of Sutton-at-Hone, and South Darenth across the local authority boundary, and thus recommend that this ward is also retained in the proposed Sevenoaks constituency. They were not persuaded by the argument of the Conservative Party that the breaking of local ties in this area is sufficiently problematic to merit a ward split. Although they acknowledged the merits of retaining the Ash and New Ash Green, and Hartley and Hodsoll Street wards in either a Dartford or Sevenoaks constituency, the Assistant Commissioners felt that no counterproposal received would achieve this without undesirable knock-on effects. Given this, and noting that the Tonbridge constituency has proven otherwise uncontroversial, the Assistant Commissioners recommended retaining the initial proposals for the Dartford, Sevenoaks, and Tonbridge constituencies, and we agree.

3.148 The proposed Maidstone and Malling constituency attracted some opposition. The reconfiguration of the existing pairing of Malling with Tonbridge was opposed, with comments expressing a preference for remaining in a more rural focused constituency (Dennis King – BCE-97764). A minority of supportive representations emphasised schooling and shopping links between Malling and Maidstone (BCE-55262). The use of the River Medway as the northern boundary of this constituency was opposed by a small number of representations, including Cllr Robert Cannon (BCE-77256); other residents felt that the proposals accurately reflected local ties to Maidstone (BCE-70071).

3.149 We received relatively few representations concerning Chatham and Aylesford, or Rochester and Strood. There was some discussion about which ward should be transferred from Rochester and Strood to Chatham and Aylesford (necessary to bring the former within the permitted electorate range). We highlighted this as an issue in our initial proposals report, justifying our choice to transfer Rochester South and Horsted as the option that would minimise disruption to Rochester. This argument was accepted by Kelly Tolhurst, MP for Rochester and Strood (BCE-86282). An alternative, to take the River ward instead, was proposed by Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford (BCE-71084), but other representations emphasised that this ward contains much of the historic centre of Rochester, whereas Rochester South is comparatively distant (Cllr Christopher Buckwell – BCE-97765).

3.150 The Assistant Commissioners considered that counter-proposals putting forward substantial changes to the initially proposed Chatham and Aylesford, and Maidstone and Malling constituencies, could only be implemented at the expense of creating considerable disruption to the existing pattern of constituencies. In their view, the force of the arguments received regarding these constituencies was not sufficient to persuade them that such disruption would be merited. They noted that the counter-proposals described above did not necessarily address the actual concerns that had been identified during the public consultations, and that in areas where they did address local sentiment, the resulting knock-on impact to areas that were unopposed or supported was too great. The Assistant Commissioners were therefore not persuaded that there was sufficient concern about the initial proposals in this area to warrant the degree of change proposed.

3.151 The Assistant Commissioners considered which of the River or Rochester South and Horsted wards should be transferred from Rochester and Strood to Chatham and Aylesford. They were not persuaded that an alternative arrangement would better reflect the statutory factors, and therefore maintained that Rochester South and Horsted ward be included in Chatham and Aylesford. As such, they recommended retaining the initial proposals for Chatham and Aylesford, Maidstone and Malling, and Rochester and Strood. We agree with this recommendation.

3.152 Compared to other local issues in Kent, we received a larger degree of opposition to the proposed Faversham and Mid Kent constituency. Objections came principally from residents of the three wards of the existing Ashford constituency (Charing, Downs North, and Downs West) that were proposed to be included in the constituency, with comments emphasising local ties with Ashford and distance from Faversham (BCE-64313). A small number of representations proposed that an acceptable compromise would be for Downs North ward to be retained in Ashford, with Charing and Downs West wards being included in Weald of Kent (Stuart Clay – BCE-69082, Westwell Parish Council – BCE-72044).

3.153 The proposed Weald of Kent constituency was largely well received, with comments highlighting the strengths of a constituency with a rural focus (BCE-53971, David Mathieson – BCE-54808, Cllr Neil Bell – BCE-71730). There were a small number of comments in opposition to the inclusion of Hawkhurst and Sandhurst ward in the constituency, stating that it fits well in its existing constituency of Tunbridge Wells, which can remain unchanged (Cllr Patrick Thomson – BCE-75994, Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells – BCE-74608). The Conservative Party supported this approach in both of its alternatives for this area of Kent. The proposed Tunbridge Wells constituency received almost no comments other than those concerning Hawkhurst and Sandhurst.

3.154 The Assistant Commissioners were persuaded by the counter-proposals of Stuart Clay and the Conservative Party in this area. They were persuaded that the ties of the Ashford borough wards included in Faversham and Mid Kent are to the Ashford and Weald of Kent constituencies. They felt that the wards naturally look to the south and that the A252 running through all three wards is evidence of local ties between them, and thus that all three should be represented in the same constituency. Given that this is not possible within the Ashford constituency, the Assistant Commissioners recommended that all three wards be included in the Weald of Kent constituency, and they noted that doing so would reduce the number of local authorities in the Faversham and Mid Kent constituency from three in the initial proposals to two. The transfer of these wards would mean that the Tunbridge Wells constituency could include Hawkhurst and Sandhurst ward, and thus be proposed completely unchanged. They noted that there is no need to transfer the Leeds ward to Faversham and Mid Kent, as in the Conservative Party’s second option, and felt that this ward was better connected to the south; however, they agreed with the rest of the logic in this specific proposal. The Assistant Commissioners therefore recommended the revisions to the Tunbridge Wells, Weald of Kent, and Faversham and Mid Kent constituencies outlined above. We agree with the Assistant Commissioner’s recommendations and therefore propose the specified minor revisions to these three constituencies.

3.155 The most significant issue concerning the proposed Folkestone and Hythe, and Ashford constituencies was the proposal to transfer the North Downs West and North Downs East wards from the former to the latter. Comments from both constituencies, but particularly from the town of Hawkinge, expressed opposition to this proposal. Residents said that these wards, which form part of Folkestone and Hythe local authority, have limited links with Ashford and are closely connected to Folkestone (BCE-60769).
3.156 The Assistant Commissioners noted that, despite the opposition to the inclusion of Hawkinge in the Ashford constituency, the North Downs East ward is too large to be included in the Folkestone and Hythe constituency. They noted that this issue could be resolved by an additional ward split, but they did not feel that the case for doing so was sufficiently strong. As such, they recommended that the initial proposals be retained for Ashford, and Folkestone and Hythe, and we agree.

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3.157 Of the six existing constituencies in this sub-region, all are over the permitted electorate range to such an extent that there is an entitlement to an additional seventh constituency. While acknowledging that substantial changes to each constituency was therefore inevitable, we sought to minimise change and the number of constituencies crossing local authority boundaries within the county when devising the initial proposals. There were no counter-proposals received that argued for pairing Oxfordshire with any other counties: as such the Assistant Commissioners recommended retaining Oxfordshire as a self-contained subregion and we agree.

3.158 The initial proposals for Oxfordshire were broadly well received, with a number of constituencies receiving very few representations. The Green Party, the Labour Party, and the Liberal Democrats all supported our proposals in Oxfordshire with no amendments, and the Conservative Party made a counter-proposal impacting just one ward.

3.159 There was, however, significant opposition from a number of individual respondents to the proposed Bicester constituency, principally from five wards of West Oxfordshire district that we proposed including in the constituency. Responses from these wards (Eynsham and Cassington, Freeland and Hanborough, North Leigh, Stonesfield and Tackley, and Woodstock and Bladon) stressed their ties to the nearby town of Witney, and a corresponding lack of connections to Bicester in neighbouring Cherwell district. Despite this sentiment, only one counter-proposal, from Oliver Raven (BCE-85388), provided an alternative that attempted to address this concern. This counter-proposal proposed a rotation of wards around the county, with the objective of reuniting the three wards of Eynsham and Cassington, Freeland and Hanborough, and North Leigh with the Witney constituency. This subsequently led to knock-on impacts in the form of alternative constituency pairings of population centres, namely Bicester and Thame, Henley and Didcot, and Kidlington and Abingdon.

3.160 The Assistant Commissioners investigated a number of potential alternatives within Oxfordshire to try and address these concerns of electors living near Witney who were proposed to join the Bicester constituency; these alternatives included both Oliver Raven’s counter-proposal and their own alternatives. Ultimately, however, they determined that any changes necessary to facilitate this would be too disruptive to every other constituency within the county, which were well-received or uncontentious.

3.161 In recognition of the local authority crossing that was the source of much of the opposition to the proposed Bicester constituency, the Assistant Commissioners felt that including the name of a settlement within West Oxfordshire in the constituency name would better reflect the extent of communities within the constituency; they therefore proposed that the constituency should be renamed Bicester and Woodstock, but retain the boundaries as in the initial proposals. We agree that this would be a more appropriate name for this constituency, giving recognition to the West Oxfordshire wards included, and therefore accept this recommendation.

3.162 The proposed Banbury constituency generated a mixed response, with those in support, including Victoria Prentis, MP for the current constituency (BCE-83061) acknowledging the logic of including Chipping Norton in Banbury following on from changes elsewhere in the county (BCE-75062). Those in opposition to changes disagreed with the inclusion of settlements such as Charlbury in the proposed constituency (Richard Fairhurst – BCE-58286).

3.163 The initially proposed Oxford East, and Oxford West and Abingdon constituencies were both well received. Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, supported the initial proposals on the grounds that local ties are largely preserved in this configuration, which is ‘far less injurious to working connections than other proposals’ (BCE-74846). Comments were additionally supportive of the proposed Oxford West and Abingdon, with respondents noting ‘its broad retention of the recognised constituency boundaries and attempts to reflect existing community and geographical ties’ (Oxford West and Abingdon Constituency Labour Party – BCE-75570).

3.164 The Assistant Commissioners noted that responses from the proposed Banbury, Oxford West and Abingdon, and Oxford East constituencies were broadly supportive of the initial proposals, and recommended that they be retained by the Commission. We also feel that this is the right approach, and therefore recommend no change to these constituencies as initially proposed.

3.165 The majority of representations received for the proposed Henley constituency were concerned with the name; some respondents felt that Henley and Thame would be a more appropriate name, as the latter town now has a larger population than the historic town from which the current name is taken (Mike Dyer – BCE-65257). The Assistant Commissioners saw some merit in the idea of renaming the Henley constituency to Henley and Thame, but felt that the evidence provided so far does not provide compelling reasons to rename an existing constituency where the boundaries remain fundamentally similar. They therefore recommended retaining the initial proposals in full for Henley, but that we may wish to invite views specifically on the proposed constituency name during the consultation on the revised proposals. We agree, and look forward to receiving further evidence on this topic.

3.166 The proposed Didcot and Wantage constituency also generated a mixed response, albeit with a small number of total representations. The opposition largely came from the village of Drayton, with respondents stating that they are ‘strongly linked to Abingdon for work and transport links’ (BCE-53126).

3.167 We received comments mostly in opposition to the proposed Witney constituency. Some respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the constituency’s revised configuration, noting the exclusion of communities close to the town of Witney and the inclusion of areas further away to the south, resulting in a ‘very peculiar shape’ (BCE-59350). Additionally, residents of the Stanford ward responded, stating that they would prefer an alternative in which the ward is retained in the successor to its existing constituency, Didcot and Wantage (Uffington Parish Council – BCE-69191. The Conservative Party (BCE-96866), which supported the initial proposals for Oxfordshire in full in the first consultation period, proposed moving a single ward during the second consultation. This change would see the Stanford ward returned to Didcot and Wantage, as opposed to joining Witney as initially proposed; responses noted that this change could be made with no further knock-on effects.

3.168 The Assistant Commissioners were persuaded by the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal, noting evidence from residents in Stanford ward that indicated a greater affinity between communities in the area to Wantage rather than to Witney. While recognising the preference of Drayton residents to be in a constituency with Abingdon rather than Didcot, the Assistant Commissioners could not see how this might be achieved without significant disruption to otherwise well-received constituencies, and also noted that Drayton is in a constituency with Didcot rather than Abingdon currently. They therefore proposed Stanford be retained in Didcot and Wantage, but that the initial proposals otherwise be retained for these two constituencies. We agree with their recommendations and therefore propose the single ward transfer described above as the only revision to the initially proposed Didcot and Wantage, and Witney constituencies.

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