Winchester Tories split over severing of Alresford from parliamentary constituency

Winchester Tories split over severing of Alresford from parliamentary constituency

Winchester Tories split over severing of Alresford from parliamentary constituency

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by

Winchester Tories were divided over opposition to the removal of Alresford from the parliamentary constituency.

There has been anger in Alresford and villages such as Bighton, Gundleton and Old Alresford after the Hampshire Chronicle last month revealed a proposal to merge it with the North East Hampshire and Alton constituency.

This evening at a full Council meeting, members voted to oppose the Boundary Commission proposal after a handful of Conservatives defied their group to support a Liberal Democrat motion.

Cllr Margot Power, Liberal Democrat, who represents Alresford and proposed the motion that the city council oppose the plan, said: “Some 7,000 residents (in Alresford) will reside at the end of a 30-mile long constituency with an MP who is bound to be more active in the northern end, where the vast majority live.

“There is nothing in common, apart from the fact we are both in Hampshire and have a retained fire service.”

Cllr Simon Cook, Lib Dem, said: “If the council does not make any effort it will be seen in Alresford that the council does not care for Alresford.”

Tory Ernie Jeffs, who also represents the town, said: “Alresford residents want to remain part of the Winchester constituency.”

But Cllr Robert Humby, deputy leader of the Tory-controlled council, said it should not be a city matter to make representations, but down to individual parishes.

Council leader Keith Wood said if Alresford stayed then another part of the constituency would have to be shaved off. The Boundary Commission is trying to ensure that all constituencies have about 80,000 voters.

He said the Lib Dem stance “stinks a bit of hard political gerrymandering.”

Seven Tories snubbed Cllr Wood’s amendment that would have dropped any council opposition. They were Eileen Berry (St Barnabas), Norma Bodtger (Upper Meon Valley), Derek Green (St Luke), Ernie Jeffs (The Alresfords), Fiona Mather (St Michael), Harry Verney (Cheriton and Bishop’s Sutton) and Malcolm Wright (Wonston and Micheldever).

The Tory amendment was lost by 17 votes to 31 with three abstentions. The Lib Dem motion was then voted on with 30 in support, eight against and 13 abstaining, mainly Tories, including Cllrs Wood and Humby and the two Labour councillors, Chris Pines and Janet Berry.

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