Hampshire County Council Liberal Democrats

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Hampshire County Council Liberal Democrats

Review Officer (Hampshire)

Local Government Boundary Commission for England 14th Floor Millbank Tower

Millbank

London SW1P 4QP

31 July 2015

Dear Sirs

Electoral Review of Hampshire County Council

The Hampshire County Council Liberal Democrat Group welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Hampshire Electoral Review of Hampshire.

This submission builds on the work of Hampshire County Council’s own submission. It

recognises the strength of cross-party and cross-council working in developing a submission. It adds commentary to areas where the Liberal Democrat Group was not able to support the County Council’s position. We have commentary on the following issues:

 Council Size

 Disaggregation of Divisions between Districts

 2-Member Electoral Divisions

 Doughnut Divisions

 Demographic change and application of data to population growth

Council Size

We support the Commission’s “minded to” recommendation to retain the same Council size, subject to comments below. Hampshire is a County of growth, and as such retaining the same or broadly similar numbers of councillors will see a slight worsening in elector:member ratios.

Disaggregation of Divisions between Districts

In seeking to retain the same number of councillors, Hampshire County Council has not considered achieving electoral equality between districts by revising the number of Divisions in each District to achieve as near as possible equality of votes in each District and Division.

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As such, and noting that the under-represented areas are those with most housing growth, and those over-represented are Districts seeing lower levels of growth and relative

depopulation due to demographic change, failing to address equality of representation will require an early further review of boundaries. This can be avoided by addressing electoral equality now.

The Commission’s technical guidance notes that there are arguments that urban areas given relative issues of deprivation attract more casework for councillors, yet sparsely populated areas create greater distance to travel for elected members. The guidance suggests these issues balance out and favour electoral equality. We agree.

A division of 78 elected councillors across the Districts suggests a reallocation of one Division from the New Forest to Eastleigh. New Forest’s entitlement is 10.3 Divisions, that is a

rounding to 10 rather than 11. Eastleigh’s is 7.6 Divisions, that is a rounding of 7 to 8.

Notwithstanding the argument above, we do not wish to see the New Forest lose a Division. A study of boundaries suggests this would create even larger rural Divisions, and urban Divisions that extend out into a rural hinterland from the Waterside into the National Park with little community of interest.

We therefore favour using the flexibility the Commission has to adjust Council size to achieve electoral equality.

Adding one further Division to Eastleigh would still see a need to reduce the New Forest by one Division. However at 79 Divisions, Hart reaches the threshold for an additional Division. Adding an additional Division to Hart pushes Winchester to the threshold for an additional Division. At this 81 Divisions every District achieves a rounded figure that equates to broad electoral equality. We therefore recommend that 81 Divisions are created, amending the number of Divisions for each District by adding one councillor to each of Eastleigh, Hart and Winchester.

The case for an additional Division for Eastleigh is unanswerable: that for further Divisions is marginal but on balance preferable. For Eastleigh, there is already a model for 8 Divisions worked through by the County Council, that also achieves a better balance of community interest than the County’s submission for 7 Divisions. We support the 8 Division model described by the County Council.

For Hart, we have developed a model for 6 Divisions that achieves a good balance of interest (attached as Annex 1). We support this 6-Division model, but in the event of the

Commission recommending 5 Divisions of Hart support an amended version also attached in Annex 1.

Winchester is more complex, either on the 7 Division model described by the County Council, or in developing any 8 Division model. In either case, our preference is to retain the integrity of the non-parished City area as the basis of two single councillor Divisions, in line with our thinking below on avoiding double councillor Divisions.

The table appended to this submission illustrates the mathematics behind the coherence of our case for an 81 Division model County Council.

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2-Member Electoral Divisions

At the last Electoral Review, three 2-Member Electoral Divisions were created in Hampshire for the first time. We did not support these then, and do not now. The County Council has suggested the Havant 2-Member Division be split. We agree, though do not agree with the specific split (see below).

There are arguments for and against 2-Member Divisions. We believe the more compelling arguments are against. “Double size” Divisions can be argued as not giving each voter across the County the same power of their vote. These Divisions are inherently harder for Independent candidates to campaign in, given the cost of producing election communications and the logistics of achieving delivery. There should be a “level playing field” of Division size across Hampshire. Electors too can be confused as to “who is my councillor?” and where a Division has councillors from two political parties it is hard to see who speaks for the town. We therefore favour splitting Fareham, Gosport and Havant each into two Divisions, as is the pattern in other town of similar size across Hampshire with two or three County Councillors: Aldershot, Andover, Eastleigh, Farnborough, Winchester.

For Havant, a better community focus would be achieved by a north/south split rather than the north-west/north-east split proposed by the County Council. The community of

Bedhampton relates more clearly to the adjoining area of south Havant and could form a “Bedhampton and Havant South” Division, keeping the core Leigh Park wards of Havant Borough in a new “Havant North” Division.

For Fareham and Gosport, any number of potential splits would create Divisions as least as coherent as those in other parts of the County.

Doughnut Divisions

The County’s existing doughnut divisions of Alton and Romsey have worked well and stood the test of time through previous Reviews. We support their retention.

For Alton, the County Council has offered options on the location of Holybourne and Froyle. We support the move of these communities to the Alton Rural Division. This will create improved electoral equality and a clearer sense of community identity.

We believe there is a case for creating a further Division of this nature based on the Town Council area of Petersfield. A Petersfield Town, and East Hampshire Rural or Petersfield Rural Division would achieve the same sense of community identity as the other market-town based Divisions.

Demographic change and application of data to population growth

We have noted during the Review that some Districts, in providing projected 2021 electoral data to the County Council, have not allocated new development specifically to polling

districts but appear to have allocated development evenly across district wards. The appears to apply to data in Andover and Romsey, and may therefore have implications for boundaries between Divisions.

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We draw the Commission’s attention to this for closer scrutiny. Yours sincerely

Cllr Keith House

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Annex 1 – Variations for Hart District

5 Seats

If the Boundary Commission decides to stick with the five-seat proposal for Hart District, then we would support the proposals put forward by the County Council with just one exception. We believe that for the transfer of voters from Fleet into Yateley East, Blackwater & Ancells, Option B is a far more sensible option, which better fits the objectives of the Commission for the following reasons: Option B does not require the division of an additional parish, as the large parish of Fleet is already divided into polling districts and its various parts are represented by three different county councillors, whereas Elvetham Heath is a single-ward parish represented by one county councillor.

Option B does not require the division of an additional district ward, as Fleet East ward is already divided between two county council divisions and this would just be a change in the boundary between them within that ward, whereas Elvetham Heath is in the Fleet West ward, which is currently wholly within the Fleet division.

Arguments can be made about whether Elvetham Heath or Pondtail has the greater community

identity. While there is community identity in both locations, Pondtail is clearly part of the wider Fleet community, whereas Elvetham Heath is a new independent community which is successfully

developing its own identity. It would therefore be damaging to divide Elvetham Heath at this stage in its development.

6 seats

Six county council seats for Hart District offer the opportunity for a logical set of divisions which reflect the varying communities of Hart very well. The average electorate for an 81 division model for Hampshire would be 13,333, with a plus or minus 10% range between 12,000 and 14,666.

Just as with the five seat model, where Hart divisions would inevitably be at the top end of the plus 10% range, with a six seat model the Hart divisions will be nearer the bottom end of this range. Our suggestion below creates five divisions which are all comfortably within this range and a sixth division which is just 76 voters outside. Our suggestions are as follows:

Division Name Members 2021 Electorate

Forecast

2021 Variance on 81 seat

Hampshire average

Church Crookham & Crondall 1 12,359 -7.3%

Fleet North & West 1 12,321 -7.6%

Fleet Town 1 11,924 -10.6%

Hartley Wintney, Eversley & Yateley West

1 13,234 -0.7%

Odiham & Hook 1 12,845 -3.7%

Yateley East & Blackwater 1 12,567 -5.7%

Total 6 75,250

With 11 district council wards within Hart it is not possible to come up with a configuration which matches all of the district wards, but these proposals result in a majority of the district wards being contained wholly within one division whilst providing logical county divisions.

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Church Crookham & Crondall

2021 Electorate Forecast: 12,359 (-7.3% against forecast Hampshire average for 81 seat model) This division will unite the south eastern parishes of Church Crookham, Ewshot, Crondall and Long Sutton, plus the Basingbourne polling district of Fleet parish. The only part of this division which is not a whole parish is Basingbourne. This division will include the following district wards:

 Crookham East

 Crookham West and Ewshot (53%)

 Odiham (28%)

Church Crookham & Crondall has a forecast electorate in 2021 that is comfortably inside the plus or minus 10% range. Although this division contains a small part of Fleet (which is too large for one division) it is logical to include Basingbourne in the same division as the Crookham East polling district as, together, they make up the Crookham East district ward.

Fleet North & West

2021 Electorate Forecast: 12,321 (-7.6% against forecast Hampshire average for 81 seat model) This division will unite the relatively recent developments to the north and west of Fleet, including Ancells Farm and Elvetham Heath between the railway line and M3 motorway to the North plus Edenbrook and Zebon Copse to the west, together with the rural settlements of Crookham Village, Dogmersfield and Winchfield.

The only parts of this division which will not be whole parishes are the Ancells Farm and Calthorpe polling districts of Fleet parish, which is too large to be represented by just one division. This division will include the following district wards:

 Crookham West and Ewshot (47%)

 Fleet East (32%)

 Fleet West (87%)

 Hartley Wintney (7%)

 Odiham (3%)

Bringing these areas of relatively recent development together will allow their county councillor to specialise in the needs of new communities which are still establishing themselves. In addition, the likelihood of further major development is a very key concern for the communities of Crookham Village and Winchfield, so being represented by a county councillor who understands planning and development issues will be particularly helpful.

Fleet Town

2021 Electorate Forecast: 11,924 (-10.6% against forecast Hampshire average for 81 seat model) This division includes the whole of Fleet Central district ward plus the Pondtail and Stockton areas. All parts of this division are polling districts within Fleet parish. This division will include the following district wards:

 Fleet Central

 Fleet East (68%)

 Fleet West (13%)

As Fleet is too large for one division, this proposal will bring together most of the traditional areas which make up the longer established parts of the town, whilst the more recent developments, which have many shared interests, are brought together in the proposed Fleet North and West division.

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Hartley Wintney, Eversley & Yateley West

2021 Electorate Forecast: 13,234 (-0.7% against forecast Hampshire average for 81 seat model) This division will comprise the Bramshill, Eversley, Hartley Wintney, Heckfield and Mattingley parishes, plus the Yateley West district council ward. It will be almost identical to the existing Hartley Wintney, Eversley and Yateley West division, with the exception being the removal of the Yateley Lakes polling district. This division will include the following district wards:

 Hartley Wintney (93%)

 Yateley West

Whilst Eversley looks towards Yateley for many of the services found in an urban area, Bramshill, Heckfield and Mattingley parishes traditionally look to Hartley Wintney. Hartley Wintney and Yateley are well connected by the A30.

Winchfield has much in common with its neighbours in Dogmersfield, Odiham and Hartley Wintney. Although it is part of the Hartley Wintney district council ward, it is not currently part of the Hartley Wintney, Eversley & Yateley West division and it is not proposed to include Winchfield in this new county division. This is not only because that would create a less balanced distribution of electors among the new divisions, but also because, like the rural areas of Crookham Village parish it is under threat of major development to the west of Fleet and therefore shares a strong interest in dealing with that issue and this is better dealt with by one county councillor rather than separate county councillors who could end up in serious conflict with each other.

Odiham & Hook

2021 Electorate Forecast: 12,845 (-3.7% against forecast Hampshire average for 81 seat model) This division will comprise the Odiham, Hook, Greywell, Rotherwick and South Warnborough parishes, which are all part of the existing Odiham division. No split parishes are proposed. This division will include the following district wards:

 Hook

 Odiham (69%)

Whilst Greywell, Rotherwick and South Warnborough parishes are all very rural and Hook is a growing urban settlement, these five western parishes centre around Junction 5 of the M3 and Hook Railway Station for their transport needs. Hook and Odiham are the key village centres for this area.

Yateley East & Blackwater

2021 Electorate Forecast: 12,567 (-5.7% against forecast Hampshire average for 81 seat model) This division will comprise the whole of the district council wards of Blackwater & Hawley and Yateley East. It will include the whole of the parish of Blackwater & Hawley and slightly over half of the parish of Yateley. This division will include the following district wards:

 Blackwater & Hawley

 Yateley East

The boundary between the Blackwater & Hawley and Yateley parishes is not well understood locally and many people consider that the Darby Green and Frogmore areas of Yateley parish are

indistinguishable from Blackwater in character. Many of the local facilities are shared, such as the GP surgery in Frogmore Road, Frogmore Community College and Lloyds Bank.

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Appendix 1 ‐ Dissagregation of Divisions by Districts

2021 % of existing 76 77 78 79 80 81 82

Electorate cllrs cllrs cllrs cllrs cllrs cllrs cllrs cllrs cllrs

Basingstoke & Deane 139884 12.95% 10 9.8 ‐0.16 9.97 ‐0.03 10.10 0.10 10.23 0.23 10.36 0.36 10.49 0.49 10.62 0.62

East Hampshire 92478 8.56% 7 6.5 ‐0.49 6.59 ‐0.41 6.68 ‐0.32 6.76 ‐0.24 6.85 ‐0.15 6.94 ‐0.06 7.02 0.02 Eastleigh 104968 9.72% 7 7.4 0.39 7.48 0.48 7.58 0.58 7.68 0.68 7.78 0.78 7.87 0.87 7.97 0.97 Fareham 92976 8.61% 7 6.5 ‐0.46 6.63 ‐0.37 6.71 ‐0.29 6.80 ‐0.20 6.89 ‐0.11 6.97 ‐0.03 7.06 0.06 Gosport 65027 6.02% 5 4.6 ‐0.42 4.64 ‐0.36 4.70 ‐0.30 4.76 ‐0.24 4.82 ‐0.18 4.88 ‐0.12 4.94 ‐0.06 Hart 75250 6.97% 5 5.3 0.30 5.37 0.37 5.43 0.43 5.50 0.50 5.57 0.57 5.64 0.64 5.71 0.71 Havant 98562 9.13% 7 6.9 ‐0.06 7.03 0.03 7.12 0.12 7.21 0.21 7.30 0.30 7.39 0.39 7.48 0.48 New Forest 142910 13.23% 11 10.1 ‐0.94 10.19 ‐0.81 10.32 ‐0.68 10.45 ‐0.55 10.59 ‐0.41 10.72 ‐0.28 10.85 ‐0.15 Rushmoor 67797 6.28% 5 4.8 ‐0.23 4.83 ‐0.17 4.90 ‐0.10 4.96 ‐0.04 5.02 0.02 5.08 0.08 5.15 0.15 Test Valley 98832 9.15% 7 7.0 ‐0.05 7.05 0.05 7.14 0.14 7.23 0.23 7.32 0.32 7.41 0.41 7.50 0.50 Winchester 101315 9.38% 7 7.1 0.13 7.22 0.22 7.32 0.32 7.41 0.41 7.50 0.50 7.60 0.60 7.69 0.69 1079999  Total 78 79 81 81 83

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