Proposals to split up Littlehampton into two constituencies ‘arrogant and insensitive’
Chichester District Council has been accused of ‘arrogance and insensitivity’ after suggesting a boundary review should split Littlehampton rather than the Manhood Peninsula.
Plans for a government shake-up of the electoral maps saw the Boundary Commission for England put forward initial proposals which included splitting the Manhood Peninsula between Chichester and a new Bognor constituency.
The idea prompted an outcry from those living on the peninsula, so the council drew up a couple of alternatives to submit to the Boundary Commission as part of its consultation on the proposed changes.
Those alternatives, which were agreed during a meeting of the full council, included splitting Littlehampton between two constituencies and leaving the peninsula alone.
This did not go down well with Shaun Gunner leader of Arun District Council.
Mr Gunner said: “I understand that Chichester District have concerns about the new parliamentary boundaries, and we all know that no boundaries are perfect.
“And of course they have the right to express their view to the Boundary Commission and make representations on behalf of their residents.
“But what I object to is the arrogance and insensitivity of producing competing proposals which make no logical sense, and deciding that a town outside their area – Littlehampton – should be split in half just to meet their concerns.
“I’m sure they wouldn’t like it if Arun produced proposals to cut up the City of Chichester, so they should consider being more neighbourly in future.”
The aim of the boundary review is to make Parliament fairer by giving each MP a roughly similar number of voters.
This has meant redrawing and renaming some seats.
As well as the keeping the constituency of Chichester, the Boundary Commission proposed creating a new constituency for Bognor Regis alone, while combining Arundel and Littlehampton into one constituency.
The council’s suggestions were to create two new constituencies – Arundel, Littlehampton East & South Downs, and Bognor Regis & Littlehampton West.
The first option would see Easebourne split so that the parish of Lodsworth moved into the Arundel, Littlehampton East & South Downs constituency,
The second option would be to keep the whole of Easebourne within the Chichester constituency.
Mr Gunner wasn’t the only person to be concerned about the council’s consultation response and how it would affect their neighbours.
A number of Chichester councillors were uncomfortable with the suggestion that Littlehampton should be split.
Others, though, were focussed solely on the future of the peninsula.
Donna Johnson (Local Alliance, Sidlesham & Selsey North) said splitting the peninsula boundary would cause ‘irrecoverable democratic harm to the people of Manhood’, while Tim Johnson (Local Alliance, Selsey South) wondered what people would think if the suggestion had been to split Chichester city into two.
Others felt the entire boundary review – which is due to come into effect in 2023 – was ‘crazy and damaging’ and criticised the country’s current ‘first past the post’ election system.
Green councillor Sarah Sharp was one of several who lauded the idea of changing to proportional representation.
She said: “This concern with just numbers doesn’t respond to what out communities need. We need to put our communities first rather than just being concerned with numbers.”
The council’s suggestions will be submitted to the Boundary Commission before the consultation ends on August 2.
There will be a further two rounds of consultation in 2022 after which the Commission will publish its final recommendations.