Including Hassocks in new East Grinstead constituency a ‘laughable’ idea

Suggestions that a boundary review should move Hassocks out of Mid Sussex and into a new East Grinstead & Uckfield constituency have been described as ‘laughable’.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 5:00 pm

Plans for a government shake-up of the electoral maps have seen the Boundary Commission for England put forward a number of initial proposals for Sussex.

They include creating new constituencies for Arundel & Littlehampton, East Grinstead & Uckfield (straddling West and East Sussex), Shoreham, and Bognor Regis.

In its response to a consultation into the boundary review, West Sussex County Council suggested a number of tweaks, such as moving the Ardingly & Balcombe and High Weald wards into Mid Sussex and moving Hassocks out.

Those tweaks did not sit well with Kirsty Lord (Lib Dem, Hassocks & Burgess Hill South).

She said: “The idea that Hassocks has more in common with East Grinstead and Uckfield than it does with Burgess Hill and Hurstpierpoint is of course laughable to the residents of Mid Sussex.”

Ms Lord accused Conservative councillors at County Hall of ‘scrabbling around trying to justify why the Boundary Commission’s perfectly sensible proposals are wrong’.

She added: “Anybody would think they are more concerned about Mims Davies retaining her seat – Hassocks has after all rejected the Conservatives in recent elections – than looking out for the best interests of Mid Sussex residents.”

A council spokesman said: “The council’s response comes from a cross-party group of councillors and is not the decision of the council’s leader or cabinet.

“The cross-party group looked at other options including one from the Liberal Democrat group.

“The council cannot make proposals for change as those are for the independent Electoral Commission. The council’s panel is commenting on the proposals from the Commission and within the criteria set by the Commission.”

As for the rest of the review, the council had no problem with the suggestions tabled for Crawley, Horsham and Chichester – despite the uproar caused by the suggestion that the Manhood Peninsula should be divided between the Chichester and Bognor Regis constituencies.

The consultation response also suggested moving Hartfield ward, in East Sussex, out of the East Grinstead & Uckfield constituency and into Hailsham & Crowborough.

The majority of the suggested tweaks fell on the south of the county.

The council wants to see the Bognor Regis constituency renamed as Bognor Regis & Selsey.

It also suggested moving the Pulborough, Coldwaltham & Amberley wards along with Storrington & Washington wards out of Shoreham and into the Arundel & Littlehampton constituency.

Its final tweaks centred on Worthing and Shoreham, moving the Peverel and Cokeham wards from Worthing to Shoreham, the Salvington ward from Arundel & Littlehampton to Worthing, and the Offington ward from Arundel & Littlehampton to Shoreham.

The council’s suggestions were proposed during an informal meeting of the Electoral Review Panel at the end of June.

As the consultation closed before the next meeting of the governance committee, Pete Bradbury, chair of the committee, was consulted and the decision to submit the council’s response was taken by the director of law and assurance.

There will be a further two rounds of consultation in 2022 after which the Commission will publish its final recommendations.