You will be aware that I was recently elected as Chairman of Warwick and Leamington Conservative Association and, in due course, I will introduce myself properly and explain our Association’s plans for the future. However, we have a very urgent task and the Association needs help from as many of you as possible.
Seven Days to Save Warwick & Leamington
The Boundary Commission has recommended that our Parliamentary constituency of Warwick and Leamington should lose Budbrooke Ward (which consists of the villages of Barford, Budbrooke, Hampton-on-the-Hill, Hampton Magna, Hatton, Hatton Green, Hatton Park, Norton Lindsey, Sherbourne and Wasperton) to the Kenilworth and Southam constituency, while gaining Old Milverton, Blackdown and parts of Cubbington village. We have no issue with the latter minor changes as it sorts out some minor incoherencies in existing boundaries. Please refer to the map on Attachment 1.
A few weeks ago, a sub-group of experienced members was formed to consider what the official response should be on behalf of our constituency. This group comprises Gurmaj Dhillon (Deputy Chairman Political), Andrew Day (Leader of Warwick District Council), Peter Phillips (Treasurer), Andrew Thompson (former Deputy Chairman Political) and, more recently, yours truly (Chairman). However, soundings have also been taken from many different quarters.
The recommendation of the sub-group is:
- The current situation of Budbrooke being part of Warwick and Leamington should be retained because all these villages have a very strong historic and current link with Warwick rather than Kenilworth and Southam;
- The exception is Hatton Park and Hatton Green, together forming Hatton Parish Council. Ideally, we would like to retain Hatton PC, but the rules set by the Boundary Commission mean that retaining the whole of Budbrooke Ward is not possible because it would increase the number of electors beyond the maximum size allowed by the Boundary Commission. Whilst this is upsetting for Conservative Party members who live within Hatton PC, we hope they will understand there is no viable alternative proposal;
- Please note that the Boundary Commission will not even consider a proposal which exceeds the elector threshold. It will simply reject it. We are therefore facing Hobson’s Choice in respect of Hatton PC, and we strongly believe that our proposal is the least bad recommendation;
- Please refer to Attachment 2 for the relevant elector numbers.
We believe that, without the villages, the Boundary Commission proposal for Warwick & Leamington will change the make-up of our constituency considerably. Therefore, it is very much in our interest to ensure that as much of our existing constituency is retained as possible. We are already working with our Councillors, local stakeholders and others to respond to the Boundary Commission. However, they are much more likely to listen if they receive good arguments from large numbers of “ordinary” electors.
Arguments that you might like to consider include the following:
- Residents in Barford tend to use GP surgeries and dental practices in Warwick or Bishop’s Tachbrook; local hospital is in Warwick;
- Work commute is either to Warwick & Leamington or further afield, not to Kenilworth & Southam;
- The Barford Joint Parish Council area has always been part of Warwick and Leamington and the local newspaper is the Warwick Courier; Warwick and Leamington provide the main shopping centres;
- The Budbrooke Parish Council area has always been part of Warwick and Leamington. Children living there attend Budbrooke Primary School and are then expected to go to Aylesford School in Warwick. (In contrast, children in Hatton Green and the North part of Hatton Park attend Ferncumbe Primary School and are then expected to go to Henley-in-Arden School. This is in line with the official Warwickshire Education catchment areas);
- Residents in Norton Lindsey tend to use the library in Warwick. If they play hockey, they will tend to play for Warwick Hockey Club; if they play tennis, it will be at the Warwick Boat Club; residents are members of Leamington & County Golf Club based in Whitnash; gym facilities are in Warwick and Leamington;
- In all the above cases, residents have much more of a natural link to Warwick than they do to Kenilworth, let alone Southam and so it makes no sense to suggest these areas should be transferred from Warwick and Leamington;
- Please add your own personal reasons for our proposal, as we do not have a monopoly on good ideas.
Could you please email your comments to bcereviews.org.uk (this is a web form which only accepts comments up to 10000 characters, so more detailed representations can be written in a Word document and sent as an attachment along with photos) or write a letter to the Boundary Commission at the following address: Boundary Commission for England, 35, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ.
The closing date for responses is 2nd August.
Whether or not you live in one of the affected areas, I very much hope you will support our campaign by contacting the Boundary Commission, explaining why you think their current proposal is unacceptable.
I look forward to meeting you all in due course.