By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Councillors in Hucknall have criticised proposed changes to Parliamentary constituency boundaries that would split their town.
The Boundary Commission for England has proposed moving two Mansfield council wards – Grange Farm and Brick Kiln – into Ashfield constituency, and shifting Eastwood and Brinsley from Ashfield into Broxtowe constituency.
But a meeting of Ashfield District Council on Thursday (July 29) heard alternative plans put forward by the ruling Ashfield Independents.
Their plans would remove Hucknall West from Mark Spencer MP’s Sherwood constituency and place it into Ashfield, while the three other Hucknall areas would remain in Sherwood.
Under the plan, Mansfield’s Ransom Wood ward – which includes half of Rainworth – would also be placed in Sherwood alongside the remainder of the village.
However, the plan was met with fierce opposition from councillors in Hucknall, including some members of the Ashfield Independents.
Councillor Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall North and voted against the proposed changes, said: “In theory it would make sense for pretty much all of Ashfield and Hucknall to be one constituency.
“However, I find myself in a bizarre position where I actually agree with Labour and the Conservatives – I’m not comfortable splitting Hucknall in two.”
Councillor Keir Morrison (Lab), who represents Hucknall South and also voted against the plans, added: “People in Hucknall West see themselves as Hucknall people, not Ashfield residents. We’re all one town and we want to keep it that way.
“I won’t be supporting this. I don’t want to split the town up where I was born and bred, and I think this proposal needs scrapping immediately.”
Councillor Chris Baron (Con), who works in the office of Ashfield MP Lee Anderson and represents Hucknall West, seemed uncertain who to support. He spoke out against the plans… then voted in favour, during a recorded vote.
The Boundary Commission believes each Parliamentary constituency should contain between 69,724 and 77,062 voters. It is currently undertaking a review and is due to report its findings in June 2023.
During the meeting of the full council, Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind) defended the alternative recommendations.
He claimed Hucknall West is distinctly separate from the remainder of the town, separated by the A611 dual carriageway.
The council leader added: “None of these divides are perfect, but one big road, a big body of water or a train track is better than nothing.
“We have to work on the guidelines the Government has given us. It’s not what we want to do but it’s the best we’ve got.
“I know Hucknall members have strong feelings, but we need to put Hucknall people first.”
The alternative plan was approved by councillors, 23 votes to 10, and will now be submitted to the Boundary Commission.
Similar concerns about the Commission’s review have been raised elsewhere in Nottinghamshire, by Broxtowe councillors.
Separate proposals there could either see Kimberley moved into Nottingham North constituency, or part of Beeston moving into Nottingham South.