“Don’t carve up our city” supporters plead

From The Argus

Critics of plans to radically redraw the boundaries of MPs’ constituencies today pleaded: don’t carve up our city.

There are fears proposed changed put forward by the Boundary Commission will de-stabilise the political landscape of Brighton and Hove.

Albion hero Dick Knight, is one of many who has responded to the commission’s consultation, urging them to rethink their “ill-conceived” plan.

Under the proposal, the existing Hove constituency boundaries would be redrawn to include much of Brighton city centre and the seafront including The Royal Pavilion, The Lanes and the area around Brighton Station.

Meanwhile Hove Park ward would move from the Hove constituency into the newly created Brighton North, which would replace Caroline Lucas’s Brighton Pavilion constituency.

Woodingdean would move away from the other Deans in the Kemptown constituency to Brighton North while Conservative Simon Kirby’s Kemptown would gain Newhaven and Seaford.

Mr Knight, said: “By artificially merging together inland areas of Brighton and Hove the new boundaries fail to recognise and understand the unique fabric of the city – two towns united as a city, but happily divided by their own distinct identities.”

He said: “I urge you to reconsider these ill-conceived boundary changes,” which he said were “almost certain to de-stabilise the future political landscape of the city”.

Political opponents have suggested the intervention from Mr Knight, who backed Ms Lucas at the last election, and a new Green Party petition not to move Hove Park are as much about protecting Caroline Lucas’s future seat in Parliament than any other historical concerns.

Proposals to redraw the country’s parliamentary seats to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and even out voters in each constituency to around 75,000, are currently subject to a three month consultation.

The existing Hove constituency of Peter Kyle would be renamed Brighton Central and Hove, its boundary moving eastwards to the Green strongholds of Regency and St Peter’s and North Laine wards.

The constituency would run from the West Sussex border to the Old Steine and border Brighton North along Old Shoreham Road and then the railway line from Goldstone Retail Park.

The Brighton Pavilion would become Brighton North, becoming cut off from the seafront and gaining the Labour wards of East Brighton and Moulsecoomb and Bevendean as well as Tory voting Woodingdean.

The Brighton Kemptown constituency would extend eastwards to include Newhaven and Seaford – a move that former Labour MP David Lepper has described as blatant “Gerrymandering” to secure it as a Conservative safe seat.

Brighton East and Newhaven would run eastwards from the Brighton Palace Pier all the way to Cuckmere Haven meeting Brighton North along Albion Hill before snaking its way around Brighton Racecourse.

Brighton and Hove Conservatives want to see all three constituency connections to the sea retained and Hove Park kept in Hove.

The Boundary Commission said that historic ties would be considered as part of the consultation, although constituency size had greater weighting, and indicated that the opportunity for changes remained high.

Mr Lepper, who was succeeded as Brighton Pavilion MP by Caroline Lucas in 2010, said: “I have no doubt that Caroline Lucas has some difficult choices to make if she wants to pursue her political career further.”

The consultation runs until December 5 and can be viewed at bce2018.org.uk

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