Leave Ashington boundaries alone
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has spoken out against controversial plans to transfer Ashington to a new Billingshurst and Shipley Electoral Division, saying that it has a “very strong case” to remain where it is.
Mr Herbert made his comments in a formal submission to the Boundary Committee for England who are conducting a review into the boundaries of West Sussex County Council.
Ashington is currently in the Storrington Division and sits alongside the villages of Storrington, Washington, Amberley, Thakeham and Wiston. The division is represented by West Sussex County Councillor Frank Wilkinson.
Opponents, led by Ashington Parish Council, say that the proposal to move Ashington will alienate local residents who have little in common with Billingshurst but have strong local ties with Storrington.
West Sussex has 62 electoral divisions, eight of which are represented by two members, giving a total of 70 elected members. The Boundary Committee is proposing that there should be 71 electoral divisions and 71 elected members - thereby moving to a unified system of ‘single-member' divisions across the County.
Nick Herbert commented: "It simply makes no sense to ignore Ashington's strong local ties with Storrington and the other South Downs villages. I do hope that the Boundary Committee will leave things as they are in this part of West Sussex.
"The local community in Ashington have nothing against Billingshurst - but they have a very close relationship with other villages along the South Downs, reflecting the local geography, and built up over many years. Quite understandably, they don't want to lose that. As the local MP whose constituency includes Ashington and neighbouring South Downs villages like Storrington, but not Billingshurst, I share their concern."
Mr Herbert added: "There's still time for local people to write to the Boundary Committee to make their views known before the deadline on 25 August."
Notes for Editors
1. A copy of Nick Herbert's submission can be seen at http://www.nickherbert.com/media_centre.php/320/Boundary%20review
2. The Boundary Committee for England is a committee of the Electoral Commission, an independent body set up by Parliament under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. They are responsible for conducting reviews as directed by the Electoral Commission or the Secretary of State.
3. To take part in the consultation, you should write to The Electoral Review of West Sussex, The Boundary Committee for England, Trevelyan House, 30 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2HW before the closing date on 25 August 2008. You can also respond online at http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/boundary-reviews/open-consultations/online-submissions
4. The submission from West Sussex County Council can be viewed at http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/42107/WSCC-2008-04-21.PDF