WHAT’S in a name?

That’s the question MP for Eastleigh Mims Davies would like to know the answer to.

The Conservative MP, who won her seat at the last General Election, thinks that the name Eastleigh might be too limiting for a constituency that covers a much wider area.

Now she is considering asking for an official name change from the Boundary Commission, but wants to know first if there is local support for such a move.

“From initial conversations, I think there is support to have a new name that really does reflect the varied and unique composition of the constituency,” she told the Daily Echo.

“Figures show the Eastleigh wards account for only 26 per cent of the total residents eligible to vote and so, in mathematical terms alone, there is a case to look at a name change.

“Other areas, particular Hedge End, also have large populations and down in the south there is a sizeable population but also a community, I think, distinct from other parts I represent.

“Having a name that reflects only a quarter of the constituency also leads to confusion with many people not really knowing the actual geography and that’s a problem, and perhaps even a barrier, to people engaging with the democratic process.”

Although Eastleigh wards make up by far the largest number of people living in the constituency (20,293), other wards have reasonably large populations: Bishopstoke wards – 8,464, Hedge End wards – 15,875, West End wards – 8,480, Fair Oak and Horton Heath wards – 6,728, Hamble-le-Rice and Butlocks Heath – 4,284 and Netley wards – 4,095.

Under the current proposals for boundary changes being considered by the Boundary Commission there are no plans to alter the name of the Eastleigh constituency, but Mims says there is still the chance to seek a change if there is sufficient support from local people.

“Even though the Boundary Commission has published its proposals and there are no changes to the Eastleigh constituency, under the consultation process I do have the chance to seek a change in the name.

“My personal preference might be a change to Eastleigh, Hedge End and Hamble because I think that reflects, not only the reality of the population concentrations, but also some of the unique character of the constituency.

“However, my view is not important, it’s residents who really do have the choice in how this proceeds.

“It might be that people do not want a change, or they might think of a better way to reflect this great place to live and work than I have thought of.

“To get these views, I will be setting up a link to my website very soon where everyone in the constituency can have their say so we can make a submission to the Boundary Commission if there is a support for a change.

“Until then, I would be delighted if people could contact me by email or Facebook and Twitter to tell me their thoughts.

“It will be an exciting exercise in people power!”

But her suggestion was dismissed by Eastleigh’s former MP, Liberal Democrat Mike Thornton.

He said: “I don’t think the current name causes confusion whereas new names for constituencies, coupled with boundary changes, would result in totally unnecessary confusion.”

Asked about the suggested title of Eastleigh, Hedge End and Hamble, he added: “Other parts of the constituency are just as important to the people who live there.

“You either include all the other names or none at all.”