Update: Wealden district boundary changes

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HEATHFIELD should be part of The Weald, and the Bexhill Constituency should be renamed the Bexhill and Hailsham Constituency.

This is the response from Wealden District Council to the proposed constituency changes in the South East which also include the abolition of the Wealden Parliamentary Constituency.

Last week’s meeting of Wealden’s Full Council called for the wards of Cross in Hand/Five Ashes, Heathfield East and Heathfield North and Central to be moved from the new Bexhill Constituency and placed in the new Weald Constituency which also includes Crowborough, Mayfield, Wadhurst, Goudhurst and Cranbrook.

In return the wards of Battle Town, Ewhurst and Sedlescombe and Rother Levels be moved from the proposed Weald Constituency and put in the Bexhill Constituency, which should be renamed the Bexhill and Hailsham Constituency.

“Hailsham is one of the largest towns in Wealden, and is a focal point for places like Polegate and Pevensey which are also included in the new constituency. Calling the constituency Bexhill and Hailsham will help preserve that sense of identity,” said Councillor Jo Bentley who proposed the motion. “It is unfortunate that Horsebridge - for purposes of the Parliamentary constituency - is part of Hellingly, and to achieve the necessary population count, is separated from Hailsham in this proposal. We are seeking to ensure that the Heathfield community stays together, but as part of the new Weald Constituency where it has stronger links.”

“Because Hailsham has much stronger ties with Wealden, my preference would be the status quo,” said Councillor Nigel Coltman who seconded the motion. “But accepting that the Boundary Commission needs to restructure Parliamentary constituencies, it is important that Hailsham is included in the name of a new Bexhill Constituency to build an emotional link.”

Wealden District Council is responding to nationwide proposals by the Boundary Commission to reduce the number of Parliamentary constituencies in England from 533 to 502 . Its initial proposal involves the abolition of the Wealden Parliamentary Constituency and its replacement with a new Uckfield Constituency stretching from Forest Row in the north to Seaford in the south, and a new constituency of the Weald straddling parts of East Sussex and Kent. In the Boundary Commission’s initial proposals, a new constituency of Bexhill would also include Hailsham and Heathfield. The proposed changes aim to average out the number of electors in each Parliamentary constituency.

Wealden District Council has now responded to the Boundary Commission’s consultation. The Commission has until October 2013 to report to Parliament with its final proposals for changes to the Parliamentary constituencies. The Government will then formulate legislation to go before Parliament in time for the 2015 General Election.